Finding Burger Part 15! Top or Bottom.


Top or Bottom

Does it matter where the tomato and the lettuce is placed, does it matter if the lettuce is placed above above or below the patty, where does the chutney work best? For years we have layered our burger with a buttered and toasted bun, ice berg lettuce, aioli followed by the tomato followed by the meat, then caramelised onion, followed by a great cheese and finally some chutney with a buttered and toasted sesame bun on top. We asked the question as one bites through the burger, layers of flavour is exposed and pop one by one, releasing moments of happiness as this happens. We needed an experiment. It is time for change!

I ask these questions after we did a trip to Stellenbosch last week, where I possibly had one of the best burgers to offer in the Western Cape, possibly one of my top ten burger experiences. Bertus a good friend of mine at opened a small burger joint, De Vrije Burger. I studied the assembly of the burger, with a burger patty at the base, followed by cheese, leaves, tomato and thin slices of red onion with slices of cucumber pickle. The sauce was a smoky chili sauce. I liked the idea, as the salad does not get squashed by the patty, the juices do not spoil the salad.

Need to consider a possibility……we did a trial with everything in reverse to what we normally do. After cooking and eating, we like the way it eats, like the look. But the biggest down fall is the juices running into the base making it soggy. This will still need further thinking and tests.

Maybe a burger should be presented in two halves with fresh ingredients on the cap and the remainder on the base, leaving the guest in charge to assemble. This is an option. Perhaps we can leave the lettuce in whole pieces.

In the end of our debate and experiment we walked away only with two things, the possibility of adding red onion and changing our basting for now.

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#From the pass – Peppered duck breast

Seared Duck Breast

Starting this week on our new autumn menu, is an adaptation from a previous duck starter, with the addition of a beautiful pistachio, duck liver and pear parfait with confit leg, pistachio nuts, duck pancetta, charred and charred poached pears. Initially when Dion proposed the dish I thought it was going to be heavy, but it turned out that the parfait is so light, eating well with the new season poached pears that have been charred on the grill.

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Roasted Baby Carrots with sesame

Not the first time we have made a roasted carrot salad, this time Kim and Tyra made a really cool dressing, with tahini and jalapeno peppers. This salad is about the dressing.

400g Roasted baby carrot

15g Basil fresh
15g Parsley fresh
1 Tbsp Honey
3 cloves garlic crushed into a paste
50ml rice vinegar
1 Tbsp Soya
2 Tbsp Tahina
2 Tbsp Olive oil
50ml Lemon juice
2 Jalapeno’s chopped
water to thin down if needed

In blender pulse
Pour over salad and finish with sesame seeds

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# From The Pass – Green Tomato Carpaccio


IMG_6883Green tomato carpaccio served with lime air, sun dried tomato powder, shaved giant green olives

We often forget how nature and climate effect our decisions and our menu choices. One of our long standing suppliers make like magic Steve has been supplying us with beautiful tomatoes for years, every year as we hit the height of summer we can not wait for the tomatoes. Things were slow.

Dion investigated the current supply and effect of drought with the effect on produce grown and supplied.

In the past Steve used to supply us with the most amazing heirloom tomatoes, this was not even 3 years ago and now they struggling to grow which is sad knowing that those full flavoured tomatoes might never see our kitchen this year, so during the conversation Steve tells Dion that he has green heirlooms and that no one wants to buy them, so Dion immediately demands a delivery. “As ideas start racing through my head of the many possibilities of this insane product: chutneys, pickles, preserves and just keeping the damn product natural as it has such a complex raw flavour, so it was decided at that moment, raw would be its destiny,  hence the tomato Carpaccio”


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Crushed chickpea & lentil salad with bulgur wheat

Chickpea and lentil

Almost like a tabbouleh but with crushed chickpeas, lentils and seeds

(Will serve 6)
100g cracked wheat cooked
100g crushed cooked chickpeas
50g cooked lentils
30g sunflower seeds
30g pumpkin seeds
20g sesame seeds toasted
2 bunches flat leaf parsley (40g)
2 bunch mint (30g)
4 spring onions
250g cocktail tomatoes cut into quarters
120ml lemon juice
100ml olive oil
½ clove garlic crushed
¼ tsp lemon rind
Seasoning salt and pepper

Wash and chop parsley (optional can be kept whole)
Wash and chop mint (optional can be kept whole)
¼ Cocktail tomato

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Aioli Three Ways


Garlic, gift from the Gods

Aioli is simply an emulsion, similar to a mayonnaise made up of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and egg yolks. Recipes may differ from one to the next with the amount of garlic used. Some recipes may include mustard or part vegetable oil, even bread.
In some similar sauces egg is omitted as in the Catalan Allioli using only a pestle and mortar with only garlic and olive oil made slowly drop by drop. Another similar sauce called skordalia is made with potato, olive oil, garlic and vinegar.
Previously I featured aioli with a picture of Le grand Aioli featuring boiled or steamed fish, egg, potatoes and vegetables all prepared in the simplest manner served warm or at room temperature with lots of aioli.
So this time I received a sample of some garlic from a supplier growing 15 varietals, so we were wondering what garlic is the best for an aioli? Up to now we have always been at the mercy of the supplier, they give us what they have. Choosing a varietal has never really been an option.
I have been aware in limited experience of a Softneck (silverskin and artichoke), hardneck (racambole, porcelain and purple stripe) and the very large garlic, elephant garlic.

I was given four different garlic cloves each very different, Tuscan a Turban variety from Italy with a medium strength with large and fat cloves. Second one a Persian Star, Purple stripe variety from Uzbekistan a mild but spicy garlic
Third a Purple Glazer – Glazed purple stripe variety from Georgia a strong long lasting flavour.
Fourth, Rose Lautrec Creole variety from France Sweet and subtle.

I personally do not like a garlic that is to spicy in aioli, preferring a mild to sweet garlic.

I have added two more recipes to the blog, one using no egg and one that is great for vegans
The milk emulsion was introduced years ago by very good friend of mine, at the time I did not believe him. But admittedly a high speed blender does make it possible.
Milk emulsion (egg free milk garlic emulsion)
This is so easy so quick, milk, garlic, lemon, olive oil and yes a stick blender.

1/3 cup milk
1 tbsp lemon juice (assists with the thickness)
little zest
2 garlic cloves
dijon mustard optional
salt and pepper to taste
125 ml vegetable oil
75 ml olive oil
in a deep measuring jug add milk, garlic, lemon and mustard, with a stick blender start off slowly and increase speed, when everything is combined add oily slowly, adjust seasoning.
For a milder aioli use mashed roasted garlic.

Vegan Nut Aioli
100g cashew cheese
20g pine nuts soaked
8 small garlic cloves roasted and skinned
20m lemon juice
1/8 tsp fine rind
White pepper
2 tsp mustard dijon
50ml olive oil

Combine all ingredients, place in blender until creamy.

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Paw Paw Salad


Taken from some inspiration from the street food from Thailand where the hawkers walk around with all the ingredients balanced on their shoulders with mini charcoal grills for satays, counter balanced on the other side with large pestle & mortars to pound and crush paw-paw and dried shrimp salads with peanuts and lime on beaches and on sidewalks.

1 Green paw-paw shaved pieces
1 Cucumber shaved into ribbons
80g Bean sprouts
4 Spring onions sliced
80g Peanuts, red shelled toasted and crushed
20g Coriander roughly chopped
1 ea lime flesh cut into pieces

2 Chillies chopped
50ml soya sauce
40ml mirin
40ml olive oil
60ml fresh lime juice
1 tbsp Fish sauce
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients for dressing
Combine with salad ingredients by crushing and rubbing ingredients together
Serve and sprinkle with sesame seeds

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#From the pass – Tomato dusted poached kingklip

Fish Roulade 2

Tomato Dusted Kingklip

In this week’s dish Dion presented a sundried tomato crusted kingklip with a seaweed dust, poached tomatoes, tomato dressing, spekboom salsa verde with dried olives. Dion has been playing around with seaweed a lot experimenting with many combinations and variations. In this dish the kingklip was cooked a low temperature then rolled in tomato powder, this just brought it to another level, with intense tomato flavours. The tomato and seaweed combination was a surprise, both packed with umami which was well suited for the kingklip that loves to be the vessel that carries and bring together flavours.

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Rejected Canapés

We had an opportunity to show and tell a large group of people this week, so for the group of 30, we did a selection of canapés showcasing 14 potential ideas around saving and working smart. What made this event interesting, was my chef’s and their contribution, thinking outside the box.

They pushed past the normal ideas and I was kind of stunned by the creative thinking. It once again highlighted how much of what we do daily must be integrated into a menu or a recipe. We have become so obsessed with perfect loins and cuts that we lost focus on the whole. During the discussion I brought up seconds and thirds during harvesting, often the best or the firsts are always in demand and are seldom a problem to sell, the challenge comes in in selling the tomato with a blemish. Often organic well looked after vegetables are picked at the right time when it is ready to eat and not while still unripe, like in many cases shops sell items that have been picked two weeks before it should have been. With picking at the right time many items ripen past the best, but are still good for certain applications, this would be considered thirds, it is at this point that waste is found, many will not touch, this sector must be looked at a it holds possibilities not just on menu’s but for the hungry. But more on this at a later stage.

But for our lunch we presented canapés some of these concepts for the event included crispy lamb fat and celeriac skin remoulade rolled in biltong dust, Cauliflower leaf latke with trout tartare, tomato ciabatta tortelloni, spinach stalk pakora and smoked trout belly rillettes. It must be said that we use waste in recipes in conjunction with ingredients in our recipes. We will be investigating and exploring some of these recipes at a later stage.

My personal highlights was the tortelloni, bread is so underestimated, underappreciated and just gets a bad wrap because of gluten. Get over all of that and its use and application becomes far more than a sandwich or a bread crumb. We often add toasted bread crumbs with anchovy to spaghetti, which is totally divine. In this application we combined skins from tomato and peppers, stale ciabatta, wine, olive oil that is cooked down before adding off cuts parmesan for the filling.

Cook the tortellini and toss it in butter or even better burnt butter with sage(stalks).

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WASTED 6 – Time!

Everyday we juice boxes and bags of oranges for fresh orange juice, we then throw away all the juiced oranges. On the other side of the kitchen we serve morning and afternoon tea and lots of it. It is missing something unique. Homemade goodness!
Cannot believe it took us this long to figure it out. But the first trial by Chef Jaco was snapped up by Craig our pastry chef for the cheese boards. The thinking was to make a marmalade for the scones and the preserve for the cheese boards.
But after tasting the orange preserve we all decided that it will work fantastically on the scones with clotted cream. The biggest challenge in making this preserve is time, and more time as the oranges are cooked multiple times in fresh water to remove the bitterness. The result is unique as the skins are soft, very soft and easy to apply.
We still have a lot of skins, we need to consider other applications, orange salt, candied oranges and marmalade.
With the shortage of water, we will have to cut one or two steps.

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