Tag Archives: Recipes

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.

Thyme, as essential as salt and pepper

Thyme in a pot

Thyme has inspired poetic praise from Virgil to Kipling, who wrote of “wind-bit thyme that smells of dawn in Paradise”.  It is one of the great culinary herbs of European cookery.

Thyme deserves a place right beside salt and pepper in the kitchen. Its amiable and positive flavour works in more dishes than any other robust culinary herb. Whether it’s humming in the background or conspicuously assertive, thyme seems to go with everything in the cooking pot. Another virtue is that it aids the digestion of fatty foods which makes it very useful in a health promoting diet.

Thyme can be added at any point in the cooking process, from the beginning of a stew to a last minute sprinkle. Oftentimes it is added both at the beginning and again a few minutes before serving to slow cooked dishes.

Use thyme judiciously until you are familiar with its pungency. As long as you match the quantity of the herb to the robustness of the other ingredients, thyme is comfortable with nearly any savoury dish. You can be as timid or as daring as you wish, using anywhere between half a teaspoon and one tablespoon per serving. The smaller amount will linger softly whilst the larger amount is best with something that has its own assertive flavour like a grilled leg of lamb.

Chopped fresh leaves are much more pungent than dried leaves. When converting between the two, start with equal amounts and adjust according to taste.

I trust you’ll add this wonderful herb to your cooking repertoire.

Tossed Salad with Thyme Vinaigrette

Inspired by the traditional Greek salad this dish is always popular when served at our classes or family gatherings. The baby salad greens are optional but they do add a wonderful dimension to the salad.

500g green cabbage, shredded (I liked to use savoy)
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
150g black olives, pitted and halved
225g feta cheese, crumbled
120ml olive oil
about 3 tbsp. red or white wine vinegar, herb vinegar or lemon juice to taste
2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 big handful baby salad greens (optional)

In a large salad bowl, toss the cabbage, onion, olives and feta until thoroughly mixed. In a small mixing bowl whisk the olive oil, vinegar, thyme and salt. When emulsified toss with the salad. Refrigerate the salad for 1 to 2 hours to allow the flavours to develop. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Just before serving, toss the bay greens with the salad and season with pepper.

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!