We love sharing milk tart with our friends, but because it’s a bit unpractical to take a milk tart to a finger-food pot luck meal, Marietjie started filling small home-made tartlet cases with her standard milk tart filling. The plate is always empty when it’s time to go home.
Ystervarkies are small cubes of cake that are dipped in chocolate sauce and then rolled in coconut, to resemble hedgehogs. (“Yservarkie” is Afrikaans for “hedgehog”.) South African lamingtons are much smaller than the Australian and New Zealand versions, usually measuring only 3 or 4 cm square.
A delicious chicken pie that combines delicate flavours and colours: small pieces of pink ham and slices of white-and-yellow egg are gently tucked into a protein-rich mixture of shredded chicken and home-made chicken stock, thickened with sago to be moist but never soggy. You won’t find any vegetables in this king of pies; they are served on the side, together with a crispy garden salad.
We made these easy apple tartlets with a simple apple filling and tasty squares dough, using a silicon tartelette container. It was a bit of an experiment, but they came out beautifully, exactly like the apple tartlets we grew up with as children.
Tasty squares, an old-fashioned South-African slice, might have its roots in Holland.
This is more or less the recipe that Marietjie’s mum baked, but we prefer to go light on the cloves and almond essence.
A pudding that’s allowed only once every four years? Yes, that’s right. In honour of leap year, we made South African leap year pudding.
Rich, festive, fabulous, and expensive, a biltongpotjie is special dish for a special occasion.
Condensed milk biscuits are well-known in South-Africa. They are similar to New Zealand condensed milk biscuits, but contain egg.
The dough is soft and very pliable, which means you can shape your biscuits with a cookie press, or even a meat grinder with a cookie attachment, if you are so lucky to own one.
If you are a fan of Milo, you will most probably love Milo biscuits. They are crunchy on the outside, soft and Milo-ish inside, and goes very well with a glass of cold milk.
A bottle or two of tangy beetroot is a very handy thing to have in the pantry when you need to conjure up salad in a hurry. This spicy beetroot salad, also known as pickled beetroot or even beetroot relish, is a favourite in both South-Africa and New Zealand.
Ouma Babsie, Marietjie’s grandmother, lived in Onseepkans in the Boesmanland in the North-Western Cape. Because their farm was on the banks of the Orange River it produced top-quality fruit, which Ouma Babsie bottled for the winter months. Her bottled quince left a lasting impression on Marietjie: slices of rosy pink quince preserved in heavy syrup was not something that was easy to come by for city dwellers.
There is nothing as refreshing as cold ginger beer on a scorcher of a day! Ginger beer is a traditional drink as well. It was quite popular – and made frequently – in the days before fizzy drinks became readily available, especially on New Year.
Buttermilk pudding is a very traditional baked pudding in South Africa. It is a light pudding, with a creamy spongy texture, and we love it.
Although buttermilk pudding is great on its own, the orange sauce described in this recipe is a perfect companion if you feel a little more adventurous.
Marietjie’s mum used to say "I love you as much as fig jam" when she liked someone a lot, and she was right: green fig preserve is lovely with wholegrain bread and butter, irresistible on a cheese platter, and goes very well with buttermilk pudding. The whole preserved figs are also delicious on their own, especially when lovingly served up on cake plates with tea or coffee, as they did in the Old Cape.
Marietjie's mum enjoyed sewing and during the 80's she attended Knitwit classes for home dressmakers, which taught quick and easy ways to work with knit and stretch fabrics. They also exchanged fast and easy recipes, and this recipe was known as Knitwit Bran Rusks.
Instead of using ready-made curry mix, this recipe for Cape Malay lamb curry combines basic spices (ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves) into one of South Africa’s best curries. The long list of spices may let it sound complex, but is surprisingly easy to make.
Lepelsteeltjies is another much loved South African combination of savoury and sweet: they are tiny biscuits made from cheddar cheese, with a wee bit of apricot jam in the centre.
They are not easy to pass by: the only safe way to store them is behind lock and key. Luckily, lepelsteeltjies will get stale if you leave them too long, so you’ll have the perfect excuse to liberate them.
Every winter, our friend Hannie organises a mid-winter pumpkin feast to lighten the winter greyness – if only for one weekend – and her colourful, sweet pumpkin fritters are one of the star attractions.
Recipes for pumpkin fritter sauce often use more sugar, but Hannie’s cinnamon caramel sauce is just right. In fact, it is delicious.
Ginger tart is an old South African treat: it appeared in the South African “Kook en Geniet” (Cook and Enjoy) recipe book as far back as the 1950s.
Mixing sweet and savoury is typical South African: we grew up with combinations such as grated cheese and apricot jam, or cheese and golden syrup, on sandwiches or vetkoek. Although it was a little unusual at first, Jaco’s colleagues quickly became partial to these small marmite and cheese cakes, baked in muffin pans for morning tea.
A baked fruit salad pudding combines the comforting richness of a wintery oven-baked pudding with the fresh flavours of fruit salad (better known as fruit cocktail, or "vrugte-kelkie" in South Africa). It is the kind of dish that reminds you that spring is only a couple of month away!
A Springbokkie is a shooter made from Amarula Cream and peppermint liqueur. It is a very patriotic drink, not only because a Sprinkbokkie reflects the gold-and-green of South Africa’s national rugby team, but also because Amarula’s the world’s second best selling cream liqueur (Bailey's Irish Cream being the first).
Peppermint crisp shooters (peppermint crispies for short) are the liquor equivalent of the incredibly popular peppermint crisp tart. They are just as bad for you as the real tart, and just as irresistible.
If your charcoal fire is anything like ours, it’s always warm enough to braai (barbecue) just one last little something after the meat and wors (South African sausage) have been braaied to perfection. For us, that last little something has got to be braaibroodjies, because a braai is simply not perfect without these delicacies: crunchy brown on the outside, but soft and wonderfully flavoursome inside.
We re-discovered pickled curry beans when our friend Hannie, who invited us for dinner, opened a bottle of this delightfully tangy yellow-green salad. It was real tasty and is very traditional South-African.
Because Hannie grows runner beans in her garden, she uses 2 kg beans to make a large batch of just over 3 litres. If you want to cook just enough for a single meal, a small 250 gram bag of green beans from the local supermarket will make about 400 ml salad.
We like our curry beans to be quite spicy, but you can tame it easily by reducing the turmeric and curry.
Melktert shooters (better known as “melktertjies”) is quite the modern South African shooter. It smells and tastes like melktert (South African milk tart) with a bit of kick and can turn people who never bothered with shooters or cocktails before, into melktert shooter enthusiasts within a single sip.
There are a few variations of this most sought-after recipe, but the basic ingredients remain the same. We settled for the following melktertjie recipe.
Modern South African “sousboontjies” are made from a speckled bean known as a sugar bean, available in South African shops here in New Zealand.
Hettie Claassens describes the interesting history of this traditional South African dish in her book "Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos". Sousbone (sweet and sour beans in sauce) was first made by the Romans, who used vinegar, spices and honey. The 13th century Arabs made a similar dish with sweetened mustart, vinegar and raisins.
In the 17th century, the Dutch used prune juice and syrup or honey to make their version of sweet and sour beans, which they brought to the Cape of Good Hope when they settled there in 1652. By the 1740's it had evolved into a salad made with black-eyed beans (swartbekboontjies), butter and vinegar.
Marietjie grew up with this attractive cheese and condensed milk tart, topped with apricot halves, that perfectly combines sweet, tangy and savoury tastes.
It looks just like sunny side up eggs. Marietjie's sister, who declared this to be her all-time favourite tart, was known to eat it for breakfast. She also made it a standard item on her birthday where, together with chocolate cake and a savoury tart, it was offered to guests who dropped by any time between morning tea and afternoon tea time.
Frikkadelle are South African meat balls. They can be as simple or grand as the occasion demands, and this recipe is definitely on the lavish side (but easy to make): the combination of perfectly flavoured frikadelle, served in a heart-warming tomato, onion and wine sauce, will tame the coldest and wettest of winter nights.
Slaphakskeentjies is an old fashioned traditional South African salad recipe that stood the test of time. These delicious small pickled onions, in their tangy, piquant sauce, can be served with a variety of meat-based main dishes.
Because peeling onions can be time-consuming, this recipe is for a small batch, but you can easily doubled or triple the ingredients if you need to.