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For the love of food

With food as her language of love, Hillcrest’s Karyn Smith lives, breathes and dreams about recipes all day long. Instead of carb-heavy dinners and dense winter stews, this veggie kitchen queen eagerly knocked up some fresh and flavour-filled spring dishes (there’s a meaty one too) that will give you the perfect excuse to reinvent your home-cooking menu.

“Food is my passion and how I express myself. To be honest, I am not a confident person unless I have a pan or pot in my hand. My mother was my foodie inspiration and no matter how busy she was, she always ensured we had a hearty home-cooked meal every night. I have fond memories of standing on a stool, hardly able to reach the counter top, baking with my mom. I was always intrigued at what could be created with simple ingredients. It gives me great joy to cook, especially alongside my executive chef husband, Rhett (who has helped take my passion for food to another level) and entertain outdoors as a family.

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When Curro Hillcrest was being built, Karyn was asked to tender for the Campus Cafe and it was granted. With little time to prep, she started working on a menu. She also took on the role of functions co-ordinator working alongside a catering team that consists of learners and staff.
“I love what I do, being able to experiment, teach and learn from others around me. The kitchen is definitely the heart of my workspace and of our home. Friends often ask me to share recipes, and creating new recipes is my thing, from sauces to desserts, baking and breads. Food is my life and I love sharing it, so I hope you enjoy these recipes just as much as I have.”

Zucchini bread


2 Cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 Tsps baking powder

½ Tsp baking soda

1 Tbls lemon zest

1 Tsp salt

2 Large eggs

1 Cup granulated sugar

1/3 Cup melted unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Cups fresh zucchini, grated



Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf ton with non-stick baking spray and set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, melted butter, oil, vanilla extract, and grated zucchini. Stir until smooth and sugar dissolves. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and stir until fully combined. Do not over mix. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the bread comes out clean. Remove the tin from the oven aside to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove bread from the pan. Let the bread cool before slicing.

Adobe pork belly skewers


1 kg pork belly (whole)

2/3 cup soy sauce

5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/4 cup canola oil

1 large yellow onion, finely diced

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup white vinegar



Mix all marinade ingredients together and place in a deep pot and place pork belly into pot and cook on a low heat for an hour. Take belly out and cool. Cut pork into equal size squares. Heat three cups sunflower oil in a heavy based pan and shallow fry your pork squares until golden and crispy.

Place four/five squares onto each skewer and enjoy with a vibrant salad.


Spring salad


1 green unripened papaya, shredded

1 carrot, shredded

15 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 garlic cloves

3 Thai bird eye chillies

2 tablespoons of filtered fish sauce

1 teaspoon of powdered veg stock

1 tablespoon of palm sugar

1/2 of a lime, juiced

1/2 cup of peanuts roasted



Prepare the papaya by washing the outside. Peel the papaya with a peeler and ensure you wash the sap off. Then start making cuts into the peeled papaya at 1/8 inch intervals and use the Julienne Zig Zag blade to shred the papaya flesh. When you start seeing the seeds of the papaya salad, stop and move to the next part of the papaya and repeat the shredding process. Discard and remove any seeds that may get into your bowl. Set aside. In a mortar and pestle. Pound the garlic, sugar, and Thai chilli peppers together. As you start pounding, use one hand to cover the mortar opening as you carefully pound so that the Thai chillies don’t splash into your eyes. Add the fish sauce. Next, add the lime juice and stock.

Add the cherry tomatoes and lightly pound, allow the juices from the tomatoes to be released.  Take care not to pound the tomatoes too much because you want to keep their shape so they are plump still

Continue pounding, gently. Add in the shredded papaya and carrots; mix it in the mortar with a spoon. Roast the peanuts over a hot pan until toasted and golden. Use a food processor to roughly chop the peanuts. Plate the Thai spicy green papaya salad. Garnish with peanuts.

Vegan burgers patties


1 can chickpeas

2 Tbsp. flour

1 red onion diced

139g beetroot

50ml coriander fresh

2 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 to 2 tsp chilli

2 tsp fresh chilli

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper



Gently fry the chopped garlic and red onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the ground chili, cumin and coriander to the pan and roast the spices for about 1 minute. Drain the chickpeas and place into a food processor together with the flour, fresh coriander, ground cumin and coriander, chopped chili, salt and pepper. Pulse so that the mixture is not quite a paste. Check for seasoning and fold in the diced beetroot. Divide the mixture into 4 Roll each quarter into a ball and flatten with your hand to form a nicely shaped patty. Fry in a non-stick pan until cooked through. Serve on buns of your choice, with garnish and sauces of your choice.



4 egg whites

1 ¼ cups white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons corn-starch

1 pint heavy cream

Seasonal fruit for topping



Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually add in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each. Beat until thick and glossy. Fold in vanilla extract, lemon juice and corn-starch. Spoon mixture inside a circle drawn on parchment paper. Working from the middle, spread the mixture towards the outside edge, building up the edge slightly. Bake for an hour on about 150°C. Cool on a wired wrack. Once cooked and ready to serve top with whipped cream and fresh fruit.

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