Tag Archives: food and drink

Gingerbread Cake drizzled with orange glaze

Another swathe of rainy and overcast weather has set in for the day here in Cape Town. Downstairs the under floor heating has provided a nice toasty warmth, a good day for making some comfort food. Gingerbread with its warming spices is just the thing and with oranges being in season, I think they will be perfect choice to use in the glaze for the topping of this delicious cake.

Rich and treacly this gingerbread is addictively good. I think this recipe could also be a good alternative to a traditional Christmas cake.




For the cake

225g/8oz butter, softened

225g/8oz light muscovado sugar

225g/8oz golden syrup

225g/8oz black treacle

225g/8oz self-raising flour, sifted

225g/8oz wholemeal self-raising flour, sifted

4 tsp. ground ginger

2 tbsp. stem ginger (from a jar), chopped

2 free-range eggs, beaten

300ml/10½fl oz. milk

For the orange icing

150g/5oz icing sugar

1 orange, juice and zest


Line a 23cm/9in square cake tin at least 4cm/1½in deep with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.

Place the butter, sugar, golden syrup and black treacle into a pan and heat gently until the mixture has melted evenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift the flours, ground ginger and stem ginger into a large mixing bowl and mix gently. Pour the cooled butter mixture into the flour. Add the eggs and milk and beat with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Pour the cake batter into the tin and level the surface with a palette knife or the back of a spoon. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake has risen and is golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Set aside to cool slightly in the tin, then transfer the cake to a wire rack and set aside to cool completely.

Meanwhile, for the orange icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add about two tablespoons of the orange juice and mix to a smooth paste. Add more orange juice, as necessary, until you get a smooth icing of the consistency you desire.

Pour the icing over the cooled cake and spread lightly, allowing it to ooze over the edges. Sprinkle over chopped orange zest and set the cake aside until the icing has set.


The Cape Winter, A Tart & and Guests For Dinner

There are four of us for supper tonight and the weather is icy and blowing, so good comfort food is in order. Shopping is usually slipped into other jobs and journeys: a dash into the green grocer’s whilst on my way to a meeting; a trip to the fishmonger on my way home. But today’s shopping is thought out, with a list, a big bag and a planned shopping experience for my guests.

One of the advantages of the free range birds from the butcher is that their bones are heavy and strong; to be expected as they have had a lot of opportunity to exercise; so one of these birds it is. Their fat, sauce-enriching bones make a delicious stew. Cooked slowly, with stock, herbs and aromatics, the result is mild but meaty, which is just what one wants when the cold weather and wind is enough to make your eyes water.

As I am well stocked with limes, I had planned on making a lime tart but now seeing the fresh Cape gooseberries I find myself in a quandary; gooseberry crumble, or the lime tart? A quick rethink of the dinner plan for tonight and tomorrow, scrambles through my head. I will do both, the lime tart for today and the gooseberry crumble tomorrow.

I pick up a nice country loaf of bread, organic cream, milk and eggs and head for home, my guests plod off to explore Cape Town. Considering the gale force winds blowing outside I think there could be better days for exploring than today.

The wind almost rips the door from my grasp as I make my way into the kitchen from outside, while hugging my purchases tightly to prevent them from being blown in all directions, I’m pleased that I passed on the opportunity to buy fresh flowers as they would have come off second best in these conditions.

The kitchen is lovely and toasty, a perfect day to be inside baking and preparing food. After a quick warming cup of tea I check on my cannellini beans which have been soaking for a few hours, all is looking good and now it’s time to start preparing the lime tart. I enjoy making this particular pastry, each time adding as much butter as I dare, just to see how crisp and fragile I can get the crust.

I have prepared all the ingredients for the filling; all that is needed is the final mixing of all the items together. The crust is pre-baked, looks great and is ready to receive the filling which I proceed to do. All goes smoothly with the mixing of the ingredients when suddenly the wind tears several branches from the palm trees, heaving them across the courtyard with a vengeance, and in my direction.

Somewhat distracted at this point, I put the tart and it’s filling into the oven, as I am about to close the oven door I realize I have forgotten one important ingredient, the lime juice. I quickly pour the juice gently into the liquid filling already in the tart, stir and distribute it as best I can while trying not to disturb the pastry base. Fingers crossed I close the oven door and hope for the best.

A little flustered I think of plan B, not to mention think about clearing the debris from the courtyard, it is going to be a long 45 minutes.

It’s time to check the tart. I give it a little shake to test if it is sufficiently set, there should still be a slight wobble to the custard; it is set just the way I like it and it looks perfect. The quick thinking and unorthodox approach to the lime custard filling actually worked. The tart was saved.

With the tart baked and the chicken slowly cooking and doing what it should, I have time to catch up on chores, get through a bit of my work backlog and I find time to relax before dinner is ready to serve.

Recipe for the well-deserved lime tart

Lime tart 2011 blog kate abbott

Lime Tart

Serves 8


For the filling

180ml lime juice

6 large eggs

250g castor sugar

175ml double cream

For the pastry

175g plain flour

40g icing sugar

90g cold butter, diced

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon cold water


To make the pastry, put the flour and icing sugar into a food processor, add the butter and blitz for a few seconds until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg yolks and the water. Blitz for a few more seconds until the dough comes together. Gently shape into a log, wrap in greaseproof paper and pop into the fridge for half an hour. If you skip this bit the pastry will shrink.

Next, cut thin rounds from the pastry and press into a loose-bottom 23-24cm tart tin, pressing the pastry gently up the sides and over the base. Make sure that there are no holes or cracks; otherwise you will lose your filling. Prick lightly with a fork and refrigerate for half an hour.

Set oven to 200∘C. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper in the tart tin case, fill with baking beans and bake for ten minute. Remove the beans and bake for a further five, until the pastry is dry to the touch.

Turn the oven down to 150∘C; finely grate the zest from two limes. Squeeze enough limes to give 180ml juice; this could be anything from 6 to 8 limes depending on the size and ripeness.

Mix the eggs and sugar together, beating lightly for a few seconds, it should not be frothy, and then stir in the lime juice and cream.

Pour the mixture through a sieve, stir in the lime zest and pour into the baked pastry case. Bake for about 45-50 minutes. Remove the tart while the filling is still slightly wobbly and leave to cool.

Lemons everywhere I look


Almost everywhere I look I see lemons in abundance; either ripening on trees, the fruit piled high on counter tops in Delis or in crate loads in our local supermarkets. It is a time when I am sure many cooks’ thoughts are turning to ways of taking advantage of this wonderful little fruit. I love lemons and for me they are the most versatile of kitchen ingredients. You can use them in almost anything, from cakes to pates, the list is extensive.

This beautiful sometimes lumpy, sometimes smooth skinned fruit also makes a lovely table decoration, its shiny skin ranging in tones of sunshine yellow colour. The rich, yellowy essential oil situated in the skin of the lemon, when finely grated with a zester, is wonderfully fragrant, mind clearing, and uplifting too.

My lemon tree is groaning under the weight of its fruit and will provide more fresh lemons than I can use, which is why when in abundance, I like to preserve my own lemons. For anyone who has not tried preserved lemon, once you do I am sure you will become a convert. Preserved lemons are just gorgeous and so versatile, a possible ingredient to be considered whenever you’re making anything savoury. Use some blended to enhance a savoury sauce, chop it into a vegetable dish, add to a stuffing for roasted chicken, or blend into a paste with olives and garlic, or sprinkle some finely diced bits into a salad dressing. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

It is not that difficult to keep a good supply of preserved lemons in your store cupboard. You can do it the traditional Moroccan way, where the preserving agents are salt and the lemons’ own juices, with or without added spices. The other is to pickle the lemons in salty brine including their own juices. I prefer to use the latter; however both ways produce good results.

My method tends to vary according to mood, spice preference or whatever spices are in my pantry. Most often used are whole cinnamon, peppercorns and bay leaf. Another excellent addition, only to be added once the brine mixture has entirely cooled, would be lemon leaves, freshly plucked from the tree and pushed down into the jar. I have also used kaffir lime leaves which add another fragrant dimension.

The lemons you use do need to be ripe for maximum flavour and if you have bought your lemons it is important to wash and dry them first as they may have been sprayed and or waxed. So wash and dry your lemons, cut into quarters almost all the way through, they should still be joined at the tip. Rub a good tablespoon of salt into the flesh; pack them down into a sterilised glass jar, pushing each lemon down firmly as you do so, this will help release some of the juices. Put in two or three fresh bay leaves, some peppercorns, a few cloves, and a whole stick of cinnamon. Sprinkle in some more salt, about 2 more table spoons, pour in boiled water to fill the jar, and to cover the lemons. Using a sterilised spoon or ladle, push the lemons down firmly to release more juice into the brine. If you are adding fresh lemon leaves remember to wait for the brine to cool before doing so. Seal container and leave the lemons to infuse for at least two weeks before use.

Salad of Green Lentils from Le Puy AOP

Lentils that are considered to be the finest are the green Lentils from Le Puy en Velay area, in the mountains south west of Lyon. Here is an easy recipe for a tasty and healthy summer salad. After preparation you can also add slices of smoked sausage, ham, chicken or confit. Let your taste buds guide you.


Serves 4


· 300g of Green Lentils du Puy

· 3 cloves of garlic

· 2 onions

· 15g butter

· 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

· 1 Bay leaf chopped to produce 30ml

· 700ml dry white wine

· 6 soup spoons of olive oil

· 15ml soup spoons of sherry vinegar

· 15ml Dijon mustard

· Chopped chives, Salt and Pepper to taste


Wash the lentils and check for any little grains of sand

Peal the garlic and cut in half, and peel and chop onions roughly

Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan, add the butter onion, garlic, thyme and bay leaf, stir gently using a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes

Add the lentils and mix in well, add the white wine, bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover the pan and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes

Prepare the vinaigrette sauce with the olive oil, sherry vinegar, mustard, and the chopped chives. Add salt and pepper. Whisk until blended.

Strain the cooked lentils, and put in a salad bowl, remove the thyme and bay leaf

Pour the vinaigrette over the warm lentils and mix in well. Serve warm or cold

Serve accompanied by fresh crisp bread and a glass of wine

Bon appetit!

After The Madness of the Festive Season

After all the Christmas and New Year hosting, feasting and  of being hosted, I was rather desperate to get away from it all and food wise needed something really simple and easy on the stomach. There were some lovely leaks in the fridge and I also had some nice potatoes in my storeroom. I decided that a delicious leak and potato soup, followed by a crisp salad would do the trick.

As it happens the first dish I ever cooked on my own at the tender age of 11, under the direction of the Chef who I was totally in awe of, was potato and leek soup. I loved it then and I still do so now. That anything so simple could taste so good!

And of course; with the beautiful view of the ocean below my sundeck, the magnificent yacht anchored in the bay, with such an awesome view eating in made me feel that I was in the best restaurant in the whole world. What more could one ask for.

The view from my deck

This is his (the Chefs) original recipe from way back then.

Leak and Potato Soup  ( So simple yet so delicious)

Served on my deck, while watching the sun set gently over the sea.

serves 4


4 leeks cut into small dice (there should be about 1½ cups)

1 medium onion peeled and diced (about ½ cups)

2 Tbsp. butter

4-5 potatoes peeled and cut into about 1cm dice (about 3 cups)

4 Water

2 cups milk

2 tsp. salt (or to your taste)

White pepper to taste


Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the leeks and onion, cook them slowly, covered, for a few minutes, or until they are soft but not brown, stirring occasionally.

Then add the potatoes, 4 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of salt and simmer covered for about 30 -40 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

Add 2 cups of hot milk and a tablespoon of butter; simmer gently for a few seconds, blend together but not too much.  Taste and correct the seasoning.

Serve with some fresh crusty bread and a nice glass of wine.