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From the farm to the table

Recent winner of the Unilever Food Solutions Senior Chef of the Year title and sous chef at Vigour & Verve at the Southern Sun Elangeni Maharani Hotel, Siphephelo Mtshali (31), is so passionate about the farm to table approach, that he’s upping his game even more in the kitchen to bring to the table foods that are made from the freshest ingredients, are free of pesticides and other harmful substances, packed with nutrients and turn any eating experience into an adventure.

“There’s nothing better for your health and taste buds than organic cooking which, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to prepare food, as it carries the intense flavours of nature.  As more and more South Africans become more conscious of the ingredients they consume, so have I, and my desire to experiment more with this genre of cooking, has escalated.”

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“At work, I am responsible for food production at the restaurant, as well as administration, maintaining top food quality and ensuring a high standard of service for our guests. Celebrity or not, no plate leaves the kitchen without the same consistent effort as the next. Every dish gets my full attention. I grew up like that, curiously watching my grandmother (a domestic worker) cook meticulously and with love, whenever I visited her over the school holidays.”

“Her cooking always made me smile – those wonderful blends of herbs and spices were out of this world. I still rate her as the best cook I’ve come across, even with my years of experience in the industry. Her cooking always gives me a nostalgic feeling. In recognition of my grandmother and what she taught me, coupled with my own passion for conscious cooking, I would love to share these recipes with you.”

 

STARTER

Zucchini tagliatelle, roasted tomato salad with shaved parmesan and crumbled feta cheese

This dish I can only describe as a plated version of a garden that surrounded me in my childhood. And as for zucchini, I think it is not celebrated enough, it’s about time it shines through and people start noticing its versatility.

Ingredients

50g cherry tomatoes, 10ml olive oil, 5g thyme, 150g zucchini( shaved using peeler), water for blanching, shaved parmesan cheese, feta cheese, micro-herbs, rocket, finely chopped basil, salt(to taste)

Method

Roasted tomatoes

Preheat oven to 200°C. Wash and cut tomatoes in ½, season with thyme, pinch of salt and slightly drizzle with oil, toss and spread on a baking tray with a cut side up. Roast for 15 to 20 mins, until slightly chard on the edges. Remove and set aside.

Zucchini

Boil water in a pot and season with salt. Blanch the shaved zucchini for 1 to 2 mins and strain. Toss all the remaining ingredients together, except for the feta, with the tomatoes and baby marrow, then correct the seasoning. Crumble feta on top, finish with micro-herbs and serve.

 

MAIN

Duxelle stuffed chicken roulade with honey-glazed carrots, sage-roasted baby potatoes on top of eggplant puree, finished with mushroom reduction

I grew up in a township in Newcastle, where most of the households had free-range chickens running around in their natural environment, making their thigh muscles well-exercised to pack in flavour when cooked. I want people to see that, when it is cooked right, it is one of the most delicious cuts of poultry you can find, along with chicken oysters, while adding my own modern twist to it.

Ingredients

1 deboned chicken thigh (bone reserved), 100g mushrooms, 50g finely chopped onions, 1 large egg plant, 50g baby carrots, 10ml honey, 10g parsley, 20ml olive oil, 50g baby potatoes, 10g sage, salt (to taste), black pepper (to taste)

Method

Mushroom duxelle mixture (for stuffing)

Heat a large non-stick pan over a burner set between medium and medium-high. Add mushrooms, onions, a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper and rosemary. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms appear dry and are beginning to brown, about 5 to 7 mins. Remove from heat, strain out the mushroom stock created and place this liquid in a pan with the chicken bone and reduce until saucy. Serve with the dish as an accompaniment.

Chicken Roulade

Stuff deboned chicken thigh with mushroom duxelle mixture. Roll into a log shape and tie it tightly with string to prevent it falling apart during cooking. Fry in a hot pan and cook on all sides until brown all over (about 10 mins). Transfer to a baking tray and finish in the oven at 180°C until cooked all the way through. This should take about 15 to 20 mins.

Eggplant puree

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel half of the eggplant and place it in the oven until it has deflated – this may take 30 to 45 mins. Once completely soft, remove it from the oven, place it in the jug blender and season with salt and pepper. Correct the seasoning and serve.

Baby Carrots

Place baby carrots in a roasting tray and toss with some parsley and honey. Season with salt and pepper bake in oven at 180°C for 25mins or until soft and brown in colour.

Baby Potatoes

Cut baby potatoes into small wedges. Toss in a bowl with finely chopped sage, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Place on a roasting tray and bake in oven at 180°C for 35 mins or until soft and brown in colour.

 

DESSERT

Apple coconut pancake cannelloni’s topped with a ginger crumb drizzled with apple Sabayon

Apples are not normally known to be as flavoursome as they can be. And again, I am showcasing the strength and depth that an organic/ free range egg provides in a dish like this.

Ingredients

Pancakes

100g all-purpose flour, 5g baking powder, 25g sugar, 300ml coconut milk, 2 free range eggs, salt (to taste)

Apple Stuffing for Pancake

3 Starking apples peeled, cored and diced, 5g ground cinnamon, 1 lemon, zest only, 2 tsp lemon juice, 20g sugar , 500ml 100% apple juice, 10g mint

Ginger Crumble Biscuit

250g flour 150g sugar, 50g fresh ginger, 100g butter

Apple Sabayon

3 free range egg yolks, 50g sugar, 100ml 100% apple juice

 

Method

Pancake

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Combine coconut milk, eggs and water in a separate bowl. Mix into the dry ingredients. Lightly spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray or lightly wipe with oil. Place over a medium heat. For each pancake pour about ¼ of a cup of batter onto your pan. It is ready to turn over when there are a few bubbles that have formed on top and have burst. Using a spatula, flip over once only and cook until bottoms are brown.

Apple Stuffing for Pancake

Mix the apples with the cinnamon, lemon zest, apple juice and sugar in a pot and cook on the stove until apples are soft. Once off the heat, sprinkle chopped mint over apples while hot to gently infuse flavour. Pile the filling along the length of the pancake along one side about an inch from the edge and using the tea-towel to help you, roll the pancake to enclose the filling into a cannelloni shape.

Ginger Crumble Biscuit

Peel and grate ginger. Squeeze out ginger juice and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar and butter, mixing with your finger-tips until it has reached a crumb like consistency. Lay on a roasting tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C until it is crispy and golden brown in colour. Remove from oven and drizzle with the ginger juice while hot. Mix it up to form crumbs and cool until served.

Apple Sabayon

Mix sugar in a bowl with egg yolks and whisk until yolks are pale and fluffy and sugar is dissolved. Heat up apple juice to boiling point. Pour ¼ apple juice into egg mixture while continuously whisking. Once smooth and combined, pour egg mixture back into the pot with apple juice. Lower to a moderate heat and whisk until thick. Remove, cool and serve.

 

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