Clasic South African cookbooks

Books that are no longer in print, but worth taking note of, because they helped to shape modern cooking in South Africa.

Be My Guest

By Fay Lewis

The cover of Be My Guest

Is it possible for books to radiate ambience? Be My Guest, by Fay Lewis with photographs by Neil Corder, proves that it can happen.

Fay Lewis and Neil Corder used their considerable talent, and flair for food styling, to produce a book that takes it's reader on a culinary journey through South Africa: brunch on the beach, a cocktail party with Table Mountain as backdrop, a grand dinner in a very stylish dinning room, a braai (barbeque party) under the Bushveld's starry sky, a picnic in a grassy garden, even a buffet meal in the forest.

Little imagination was required on our part to not only experience the flavours of the colourful dishes, but also to hear and smell - to experience - the great outdoors of South Africa. Be My Guest brings back fond memories for expats, and stir up curiosity in the hearts of friends who have not been to South Africa yet.

We then embarked on a second journey through the book: discovering Fay Lewis' beautiful recipes.

The book is divided into food for brunch, spring lunch, grilling party (braai), pool party, picnic, tea party, retro party, festive celebration, buffet party, midweek family dinner, and a red, white and green party.

The recipes combine fresh tastes and full flavours with beautiful colours and textures.

You will recognise a few favourites, such as sweet potato mash and curried lamb potjie (with the Fay Lewis touch throughout) and will find a number of very interesting variations, such as chocolate-filled French toast and grilled fish with coriander. Perfect fare for lovers of fusion cooking.

A number of traditional recipes were altered to cater for dairy free diets. One example is the recipe for the "braai-broodjie" (barbeque sandwich): a tomato and onion sandwich, roasted over the coals and often served with chutney. Traditionally, we would add cheese to the sandwich, but in this case it was omitted to cater for people with lactose-free dietary requirements - at the same time creating a new twist on an essential part of the South African braai.

For us, who regularly adjust recipes to cut out preservatives and additives, or sometimes ingredients when we cook for friends with food intolerances (such as lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance), it was very interesting to see the care taken by the author to present delicious, good tasting and healthy food without any fuss.

The third and equally valuable aspect of Be My Guest is the advice it provides on entertainment, serving styles, dinnerware and cutlery, and lots of inspiration for décor. In fact, each chapter contains one or two pages with beautiful photographs of décor that will help inspire your own setting.

As you can imagine, it didn't take long before we tried out one or two recipes: the balsamic strawberries (an old favourite) and broccoli with walnut dressing (something completely new to us), and we can hardly wait to try the promising nectarine and cinnamon picnic cakes, and the white chocolate cake with dark chocolate glaze.

Be My Guest, by Fay Lewis with photographs by Neil Corder, consist of 224 delightful pages.

In addition to its creative South African recipes and sections on successful entertaining, it's beautiful design and photography makes it a desirable addition to your coffee table collection.

This book is a feast for the eye, stomach and heart, and we recommend it highly.


Cape Malay Cooking

By Myrna Robins and Sonia Allison

The cover of Cape Maly Cooking

Myrna Robins, the acclaimed author of The Cape Cookbook, joined forces with Sonia Allison to write the lovely Cape Malay Cooking. They introduce their readers to a wonderful cuisine that combined the spices and foods of the Cape with tastes of Malaysia, India, the Dutch East Indies, and Europe.

Home cooks with a love for Cape Malay dishes find this to be an invaluable resource with information about spices, and a wide range of recipes for beautiful dishes that ranged from bobotie, braised fish, bredies, chicken buryani, penang curry and pickled fish, to yellow rice, pumpkin fritters, sago pudding, trifle and much, much more.

The publisher of Cape Malay Cooking wrote: "One of the world's least known but most exciting cuisines comes from the Cape Malay Community of South-Africa," and we completely agree.


Fabulous Food

By Lynn Bedford Hall

The cover of Fabulous Food

Fabulous Food is a collection of practical, reasonably easy, delectable recipes in a visually captivating format. It combines traditional and contemporary cooking: a selection of recipes garnered from "Fig Jam and Foxtrot" and "Return to Corriebush", plus a few from the author's books that are now out of print, as well as new and unpublished creations.

All 180 recipes have been photographed in full colour, with an easy layout and design that will make reading and using the book a pleasure.

All in all, a fabulous book to use in your kitchen, or to give as a treat to a foodie friend or newlyweds.

The contents include: Soups; Starters, Snacks, Light Meals and Salads; Fish and Seafood; Chicken; Meat (Venison, Ostrich, Beef, Veal, Lamb, Pork); Pasta; Vegetarian Main Courses; Desserts; and, Baking.


Make your own biltong and droëwors

By Hannelie Van Tonder

The cover of Make your own biltong and droëwors

This guide offers step-by-step instructions on how to make traditional biltong, droëwors, boerewors (South African sausage) as well as a variety of other sausages, such as salami and pork sausages.

It also includes recipes for many other traditional foods, both South African and otherwise.

You will find biltong quiche, biltong potbread, ham and Cheddar rolls, Kasseler rib with mustard, glazed ham, soutribbetjie and pastrami, as well as banana kebabs, salami and noodle salad, wors with ratatouille, and quick bacon and egg pie, to name but a few.


The Edge of Fusion

By Shane Sauvage

The cover of The Edge of Fusion

With twelve years of experience on the cutting edge of South African cuisine, fusion gourmet chef Shane Sauvage has all the creative knowledge to get and keep any emerging fusion cook going.

Incredible combinations of flavour and texture are Shane Sauvage's thing, and this book combines plenty of that. The recipes are easy to follow with step-by-step photographs.

Apart from being totally inspirational, The Edge of Fusion is an enjoyable read too, making it an excellent addition to your cooking book collection.


Traditional South African Cooking

By Magdaleen Van Wyk and Pat Barton

The cover of Traditional South African Cooking

Traditional South African cooking is a collection of well-known South African recipes that will enable the modern cook to continue the tradition and produce the same delicious meals that our ancestors used to enjoy.

Anyone who longs for melktert (milk tart) bobotie or vetkoek, should have this title in his or her kitchen!

South African cuisine is a unique blend of the culinary art of many different cultures - the Dutch, French, German and British settlers, as well as the Malays who came from the East, all brought their own recipes to this country.

The subtle adaptation of these 'imported' recipes in the addition of local ingredients and the introduction of innovative cooking methods have made for an original, much-loved cuisine. This title also features interesting snippets about our early South Africans' way of life.


YOU Let's Cook Top 500 Recipes

By Carmen Niehaus

The cover of YOU Let's Cook Top 500 Recipes

Carmen Niehaus is the respected and well loved food editor of You and Huisgenoot magazines, and is very popular for her easy but inspired recipes.

In YOU Let's Cook Top 500 Recipes, to commemorate Huisgenoot's 90th Birthday, Carmen Niehaus combined recipes from her Let's Cook series, with recipes published in the YOU and Huisgenoot magazine's popular Winning Recipes.

You will find ageless classics that range from Karoo lamp and pumpkin fritters, to South African deserts such as melktart, cheesecake, and chocolate cake.