Category Archives: Ingredients

Notes on ingredients found



Ross the bearded man


and he is back, taking a break from climbing mountains. Last time we saw Ross was when he brought us porcini, this time beautiful chestnuts. With autumn in full swing the season just starting, they will feature all over for the next two months, but the best is still toasted over an moderate open fire or roasted. These sweet Spanish chestnuts have a beautiful soft texture once toasted. Last night we featured them as part of a vegan menu where we normally would have used a cashew cream we made a chest nut puree. Tonight we are looking at doing a candied version with a seared duck starter.


April 2012 108







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Guanciale – Part 3



Guanciale hanging around!

Just hanging around!

So in preparation for the final dish which is going to be a linguini with a carbonara sauce we are deciding for how long we need to dry the cheeks, what is the ideal time? It is a fine balance having that concentrated flavour vs a soft cheek that has not been dried to long. As this is the first time we are making Guanciale in this kitchen, we will have to feel our way through this process. We have only had about a 15% weight loss, with a great weather report in the room at 16 -17 °C, ideal air circulation.

Up to now the curiosity has killed us, it has been over two weeks since we started. With the cheeks wrapped in cheese cloth, suspended from the ceiling we continue to wait another week


I can not wait – Guanciale


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Guanciale Part Two – Journey with chef “D”

Smelling Guanciale

Smelling Guanciale

Oh what a smell, after one week in the cure we smelled the cured cheek and the excitement was killing us, we had to taste it. What a taste, I was ready to cook, next we will be dry aging, by hanging them in the butcher for the next couple of weeks. We tried something slightly different in the cure this time adding wood chips, one to see how much of the taste would be influenced and to see how much liquid it would soak from the cure.

In this recipe we have added more fragrant herbs and spices than would be necessary, but then we are on a special journey making guaciale, we want this jowl to be extra special.


4 pork cheeks whole cleaned and trimmed
100g black peppercorns whole
40g sichuan peppercorns whol
100g garlic whole
30 bay leaves
20g thyme fresh
10g rosemary fresh
1kg salt coarse
500g sugar granulated white
5g pink salt


Toast the peppercorns.
Combine the toasted peppercorns with the herbs and garlic.
Pulse in a blender until coarse.
Combine the coarse mixture with the salt and sugar.
Rub the cure mixture all over the pork cheeks.
Allow to cure for 5-7 days depending on how thick the pillows are.
Gently remove the cure do not wash just rub off.
Place on a wire rack and allow to sit in the fridge for 24hrs until it dries out completely.
Tightly wrap the cheeks individually in cheese cloth.
Truss with butchers string.
Hang in cool place for 1 -3 weeks

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Guanciale curing



We are always looking for new and exciting suppliers and products. These two go hand and hand.

“The product is the only truth and the only star of the kitchen, not the cook, whose sole task is to enhance it and respect the truth” (Chapel/Ducasse)

Without a great supplier we will never have great products. These people essentially form part and is an extension of our kitchen team. As in my kitchen the most important philosophy and rule, is to respect the ingredient.

So last week we received three beautiful pig heads from Terra Madre, this always creates as stirs excitement. What are we going to make? Consensus was reached, Chef D will be making cheese head and with the cheeks for an extra special treat, Guanciale!

The first thing that comes to my mind is, Carbonara. The journey of this beautiful story and will be told over the next couple of weeks as Chef D looks and takes us through the process from start to finish, when we present our final dish at the Chef’s Table.

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Togara does it again!

Best bread 2015

Best bread 2015

We did it again, thanks to our brilliant head baker Togara Mabharani, winning the best bread category competition for the second time since the introduction of the competition. Togara walked away with some amassing prizes sponsored by KitchenAid

The competition in its third year and the awards celebration was held at the Southern Sun Cape Sun, Friday 14th August 2015.

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I love eating and it is because of all fond food memories that I continue to enjoy food above making or cooking it, no ingredient has left such a deep impression like this fruit. From early childhood memories, enjoying grandma Dennie’s brinjal breyani, I remember every little detail up to the table cloth in her small Berea flat. My first vegan meal with brinjal and peanuts at the Hare Krishna house in Hillbrow, the aubergine  chutney served with the Flying Boar Burger by Wynand van Rooyen. My first outside catering function where we served fried egg plants. Every time I make salad at home it ends up having brinjal in it, and my daughter loves me for this.

How can I forget, two years ago while travelling through Malaysia on the Eastern Oriental Express en route to Singapore, we had just passed the River Kwai when lunch was served, a fiery Thai chicken curry with the tiniest little brinjal (makhuea pro).

As a young executive chef one of my first gourmet wine evenings working at the Parktonian hotel in Braamfontein, I got this amazing recipe from Art Culinaire, a pressed vegetable terrine with layers of delicately cooked vegetables, each flavoured to perfection then brought together in one moment with grilled brinjal, slow roasted tomatoes, roasted peppers. It was so simple but at the same time it was complex.

Call them what you want…… they are amazing, my new favourite baked with miso, so unbelievable!

If eaten raw it has a bitter taste, but once cooked it becomes a vessel that works with so many applications absorbing and highlighting the richness, as Fortunato Mazzone makes his “parmigiana di melanzane”, fried and baked with tomato and Parmesan, this is a recipe that is worth killing for.

Moussaka, Ratatouille, Baba Ghanoush, İmam bayildi, Caponata. It is clear that it is an important part of any vegans and vegetarians diet and it is clear to see why. Even dried brinjal that is seasoned with vinegar, salt, coriander and pepper then dried to look like biltong sticks.

Greatest thing about a brinjal is that it is available all year round, original word brinjal derived from Portuguese name beringela. Derived from the Arabic term badinjan. The French transformed it to Aubergine. Called egg plant when introduced to Europe and America because of the common variety grown resembled hen’s egg.

So call it what you want melanzana, garden egg, patlican, brinjal, egg plant, aubergine, badnijan

Baba Ghanoush (Egg plant dip)

4 ea large Brinjal
2 tbsp parsley chopped
2 tbsp mint chopped or chiffonade
4 Garlic cloves roasted and 1 raw chopped crushed fine

30ml lemon juice and 1/2  tsp lemon zest
2 – 3tbsp / 20-30ml tahini
40 ml olive oil
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp sesame toasted

Prick the aubergines with a fork.
Grill the aubergines on an open flame grill until charred. Brinjal will be soft. This will take a good 20 minutes.
Allow to cool and remove pulp and chop fine
Combine garlic, zest, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and pepper.
Combine the flesh with garlic mixture, parsley and mint.
Adjust seasoning and serve.

If you prefer a more smokey Baba Ghanoush, slice brinjals into thick slices, season rub with olive oil then grill.

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I still wanted to cook something that was only going to make the onion shine, why not make Slaphakskeetjies with the shallots, I have not cooked this in years, the last time with baby onions. It has been in the back of my mind for months after eating it at Overture, Bertus made me jealous! Slaphakskeetjies is basically onions in a sweet and sour mustard sauce and very South African. The sour sauce also works well with green beans. Great served at room temperature. Typically the recipe is straight forward with sugar, vinegar and English mustard. Over the years the recipe I now use has changed a couple of times, I now add a little cayenne pepper and turmeric after trying a recipe from Peter Veldsman from Emily’s. The sauce is thickened with egg yolk and corn flour.


  • 1.2 kg pickling onions peeled but kept whole with the base intact. Place in hot water for a couple of minutes this will make them easier to peel.
  • 80 ml sugar
  • 15 ml mustard powder
  • 1 tsp 5 ml salt
  • Tbsp 22.5 ml corn flour
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 80 ml white wine vinegar
  • 125 ml water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100 ml fresh cream optional, and can be substituted with water


  • Place the peeled onions in boiling water, bring back to the boil for 2 minutes, remove and leave in water for about 10 minutes until soft. Drain.
  • Mix the salt, mustard, half sugar and corn flour together.
  • Over a double boiler add the eggs and half sugar, whisk over a double boiler until doubles in volume and is nice and thick.
  • Bring the vinegar and water to boil, make sure corn flour is well incorporated and cooked out.
  • Temper the egg mixture with a little mustard mixture, before adding all together.
  • Adjust seasoning
  • Add the cream
  • Pour the sauce over the onions and serve .
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Beetroot again

Beetroot is back

Beetroot is back

We have been blessed the last couple of months with constant supply of beautiful beetroot. Red, candy and yellow all in small sizes. So underrated and under utilized. Perfect for a salad. We have put it back on to the planet menu. It still remains on the menu with the the lounge. Both presented very differently. In the planet restaurant we serve it with cashew “cheese” more like a spread or puree than an actual cheese. This has proven absolutely delicious as it appeals to both vegans as well as vegetarians not to mention the carnivores. In the lounge we use fromage blanc form buffalo ridge, farm just outside wellington (buffalo ridge makes the best yoghurt I have ever tasted) 

On both dishes we have a toasted nut selection to finish with beetroot leaves.      

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Abalimi Bezekhaya Salad 1



Broccoli salad with quinoa and nut fried egg

Broccoli salad with quinoa and nut fried egg

Abalimi means ‘the planters’ in Xhosa, and this urban farming project is run in the communities of Khayelitsha,  Langa, Phillippi and other surrounding areas on the Cape flats. The project runs organic food growing and nature conservation projects to create self-help job creation, alleviate poverty and to encourage environmental renewal. Vegetables and sometime fruit grown in the gardens is sold as boxed vegetables through the Harvest of Hope kitchen; the box will differ each week based on what comes out of the garden that week.

This is where we have created a Abalimi Bezekhaya salad that changes weekly and sometimes daily based on the ingredients supplied in the box. Chef’s in Planet are required to come up with a salad daily that reflect the freshness of ingredients supplied in the box.

It has allowed us to understand seasonal availability of ingredients, it has also forced us to think out side our comfort zones. Create with what you have and not what you want.

Look out for more stories, pictures of salad as we move from one week to the next.

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Eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Inside egg mobile

In egg mobile collecting eggs

Eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Slow cooked, poached fried, custard or as a Chef Brad from Bistro 1682 referred to one of our favourite egg dishes “green eggs and ham”, slow cooked egg dish with bacon hash, and a beautiful rich spinach and watercress sauce with Parmesan. We have had egg on the dinner menu in different formats for the last couple of years. It is the perfect ingredient! No other single ingredient has so many possible applications and uses.
So why should we settle for second best, why buy just a normal egg laid by chicken who eat GMO food that are confined to the smallest of spaces with no natural sunlight.
We sneer when we have to pay more than a rand for an egg and then complain when it is a poor quality.
But then you come across a farmer who really cares and if you are prepared to pay a little more it is worth every cent. A couple of years ago I met Farmer Angus a far cry from an accounting back-ground. He brought me a chicken and 6 eggs, his sales pitch was made easy as I had just finished reading the “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” written by Michael Pollan who traced the ingredients of four different meals. The most important in my mind was the sustainable farm In Virginia called Stearns. Normally when I get shown a new product it needs really be impressive before I will change my mind. I was completely and utterly sold! It is a journey in discovering new ingredients and suppliers, to find ethical honest suppliers takes even longer. When you find them you hold on to them.
So what is it about the eggs from Angus, one thing….they are free to walk around in the pasture as they like…

everyday you should ask “where do we get our food?”

Holding Chicken

Me Holding Chicken



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