This August sees the first of Homebru Cookery … an extension of the incredibly successful Exclusive Books campaign, which celebrates local books and authors. With cookery books always being such a massive part of this promotion, it was time for this mouth-watering genre to have an entire campaign of its own … aptly titled Tasty Reads – Mzansi Made.
So this month, dive into the close on 50 recipe-filled books that made the Homebru Cookery list. Like an exceptional menu at your favourite restaurant, it’s hard to choose (we always have food envy) … but we’ve found our favourites.
It’s easy to spot the most loved, and used, cookbooks in our houses. They’re the ones with smears of olive oil on the cover and faint outlines of spilt sauce quickly wiped off the pages inside. But by golly, we won’t be doing that with our copy of Tashas Inspired. This celebration of food and art is a glorious collection of some of Natasha Sideris’ favourite, classic recipes from around the world, beautifully illustrated with not only mouth-wateringly stunning food photos, but also original works of art … half recipe book, half coffee table book. It’s a visual feast … with recipes like Savoury Cheesecake (a grown-up cheesecake Tasha remembers having with her mum at Harper’s, the Stuttaford’s department store café), with Tortilla from Spain and Waldorf salad from New York. There’s a Greek salad that will impress the socks off your guests (and which even can’t-boil-an-egg cooks will be able to dish up), and Salmon Wellington (for the more capable in the kitchen). Each of the chapters are themed – think New York Deli, French bistro, Spanish tapas bar – with posh cocktails (Frozen Limonana, Drunken Cherry Champagne, Grapefruit Martini), clever hints and tips on how to create a suitable atmosphere at home … heck, there’s even a Spotify playlist for you to play at your dinner party. This book is an inspiration and a joy, and we won’t be spilling olive oil on the cover! A Homebru choice, R1209 from Exclusive Books.
NEW YORK CAFÉ VIBE WITH CHILLI EGGS ON HASH BROWNS.
Any chef will tell you that the biggest challenge of making a cooked breakfast is not the eggs but having everything hot and ready to serve at the same time. There are only three components to this breakfast – hash browns (potato rösti or Jewish latkes), sauce, and poached eggs – but you need to plan ahead to get it right. Streamline by roasting the peppers and tomatoes at the same time. When they’re done, leave the oven on but turn it down very low so you can use it as a warming drawer while poaching the eggs.
Chilli red peppers (ingredients)
2 red peppers; 24 cherry tomatoes; 3 tbsp olive oil; 1 medium red onion, sliced salt & pepper; 1 tbsp chopped chives; 2 small red bird’s-eye chillies, seeded & finely sliced
Potato rösti (ingredients)
2 medium waxy potatoes, peeled & coarsely grated salt & black pepper; 1 tbsp onion flakes; olive oil for frying
Poached eggs (ingredients)
2l hot water; dash of vinegar; 8 eggs; 2 tbsp chives, chopped
Chilli red peppers (method)
Cut the red peppers in half, scrape out the seeds and rub with olive oil. Place them skin side up under a very hot grill. The skin will wrinkle and blacken within a few minutes. Take them out of the oven and put them in a glass bowl covered with cling wrap to sweat. Once the peppers have cooled, the skins should slip off fairly easily, and you can scrape off any resistant bits with the back of a knife. Discard the skins and slice the peppers into long thin strips. Turn the oven setting to 180°C and roast the cherry tomatoes on a baking tray until they begin to colour.
Sauté the onion in a little olive oil until soft and translucent but not coloured. Add the sliced peppers and tomatoes, squashing the tomatoes gently to release their juices. Cook for a few minutes to make a glossy, chunky sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste, but only stir in the chives and chilli just before serving.
Potato rösti (method)
Season the grated potato and mix with the onion flakes. Twist tightly in a clean dishcloth to squeeze out any excess moisture. Divide into 8 equal portions, press into round flat discs, and fry over medium heat in a little olive oil. Press the rösti down firmly with a spatula to help the grated potato stick together. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Drain and keep warm in the oven at a very low temperature.
Poached eggs (method)
Fill a deep pot about two-thirds full with water and bring it to simmering (not boiling) point. Add just a dash of vinegar – overdo it, and your eggs will smell sour. Crack each egg into a small cup first, then swirl the simmering water with a wooden spoon to create a whirlpool. Now gently lower the egg right into the middle of the vortex. Keep swirling until the egg white becomes solid and opaque. The longer you stir, the firmer the yolk will be. If you’re not serving breakfast immediately, keep the eggs aside in ice-cold water. They will firm up immediately. Just before serving, reheat them briefly in boiling water – not more than a minute if you like them runny.
Spoon chilli red pepper mixture onto röstis, top with poached eggs and garnish with chives.
BLUE CHEESE WEDGE SALAD
This enduringly popular salad was de rigueur among New York’s fashionable set of the 1920s, and right up until the late ’80s was standard on every steakhouse starter menu. Now it’s being revived, and with good reason – crunchy iceberg lettuce and tangy blue cheese dressing are perfect partners. If you find blue cheese too pungent, substitute it with its milder cousin Gorgonzola, or simply adjust proportions according to taste. For a vegetarian salad, leave out the Parma ham.
Blue cheese dressing
150g blue cheese (Roquefort for a pungent taste, or a milder Gorgonzola); ½ cup buttermilk; salt and black pepper
Blend all ingredients together to a smooth, creamy consistency.
140g Parma ham; 1 large head of iceberg lettuce; 16 cherry tomatoes, halved 8 slices red onion; handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped; 1 ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil; salt & black pepper; blue cheese dressing.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Lay the Parma ham on a baking tray, taking care not to overlap. Bake for about 6 minutes, or until crisp. Once cooled, break the slices into bite-size pieces, but keep a few bigger pieces for the garnish.
For the salad, cut the head of lettuce into 8 wedges, and place 2 wedges each on 4 plates. Combine the tomato, onion and half the chopped parsley with the bite-size pieces of Parma ham. Pile on top of the lettuce wedges and drizzle generously with dressing. Trickle over some extra-virgin olive oil, season to taste and garnish with chopped parsley and ham.
A GAZPACHO SPANISH AFFAIR
This Andalusian cold tomato soup depends on the ripest, rather flavourful tomatoes for its deep, sweet flavour. To ripen tomatoes, don’t store them in the fridge, but rather keep them in the fruit bowl next to the bananas, which will help them ripen faster. Chilled gazpacho is very refreshing on a summer’s day but it doesn’t keep well, so eat it on the same day you make it. The diced garnish of hard-boiled egg, cucumber and Serrano ham should be plentiful.
4 ripe tomatoes; 1 tbsp tomato purée; 2 tbsp coriander pesto; 2 tbsp icing sugar; 2 tsp lemon juice; 100ml extra-virgin olive oil; 4 tbsp water; 2 garlic cloves, blanched
Coriander pesto (ingredients)
1 cup coriander leaves; 1 garlic clove; 45g cashew nuts, toasted; 35g Parmesan cheese, finely grated; 125ml extra-virgin olive oil; salt & black pepper
10 cherry tomatoes; 1/4 cucumber; 1 small red chilli; salt & black pepper; 15ml olive oil; 1 tbsp red grape vinegar; 1 sprig of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Hard-boiled egg, chopped coriander pestoSerrano ham, thinly sliced toasted ciabatta or baguette
Coriander pesto (method)
Blend all the ingredients together in a jug blender, or use a stick blender.
Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate until ice cold.
Dice all the ingredients. It’s traditional to dice the salsa finely unless you prefer a chunkier gazpacho. Season well and stir in the olive oil, red grape vinegar and parsley.
Ladle the chilled gazpacho into 4 bowls and garnish with salsa, the chopped hard-boiled egg and Serrano ham. Drizzle with coriander pesto. Serve with extra toppings on the side and toasted ciabatta or baguette.
In a smart Parisian bistro, your fish will be boned and plated tableside. Your waiter’s collared shirt will be clean and freshly pressed, the table linen starched and the wine chilled to perfection. Julia Child, the great American cook who popularised French cuisine in America in the ’50s, described her first meunière as “the most exciting meal of my life”. It’s not hard to see why, because the humble sole is one of the most delicate and polite of all sea fishes. Even the bones behave themselves and will come away clean and neatly attached to the spine, all in one.
4 soles, cleaned & skinned; flour, for dusting fish, seasoned with salt & black pepper; olive oil, for frying
lemon butter sauce (Ingredients)
60 g flaked almonds; 8 tbsp lemon juice; 24 caper berries; 200 g butter handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Dry the sole fillets and dust with the seasoned flour. Heat the olive oil on high in a large frying pan. Cook the sole for 2–3 minutes on each side and finish off in the oven if the sole is particularly thick, to ensure it is cooked through.
Lemon butter sauce (Method)
Toast the flaked almonds over medium-high heat in a dry frying pan. The slivers burn easily, so keep an eye on them and give them a good shake for an even colour. Heat a saucepan on high. Add the lemon juice, stir in the caper berries and toasted almonds, reduce the heat and add the butter and chopped parsley.
Plate the sole and dress with the lemon butter sauce. Serve with boiled potatoes, a green salad and lemon wedges.
All recipes published with permission from: tashas Inspired A celebration of food and art
Paging through Nicky Stubbs’ cookbook feels like an enjoyable hour catching up with lovely old friends. Written, she says, as a love song to the family and friends who’ve fed her, taught her to cook, eaten and cooked with her, it’s a nostalgic journey with her mother via the sponge cake thick with butter icing, with her grandparents who lived at the foot of Mount Curie in East Griqualand, and who dished up roast beef and Yorkshire pudding on Sunday and kept home-made biscuits in a blue-and-white striped Cornishware jar on the dresser. So in the book you’ll find these recipes – her mum’s sweetcorn fritters, the gazpacho served at her wedding in the Free State, her cousin’s recipe for buttermilk rusks; and alongside those, recipes we used to make and have long forgotten about. Dishes like chutney chicken (who didn’t make this back in the day? With Mrs Balls chutney and a packet of brown onion soup, it was delicious and we are making it immediately). For the quick seed loaf we made before guests arrived, and for those lovely pressed picnic loaves which we wrapped in wax wrap and took on picnics and long drives. For apple crumble made with tinned apples and lemon meringue pie made with Tennis biscuits and condensed milk.
For Friends and Family isn’t a new release, but it’s a marvellous Homebru buy, a celebration of heirloom recipes, some with modern twist … a tribute, says Nicky, to all who value the joy and community of meals prepared with love. Human & Rousseau, R424 from Exclusive Books.
COQ AU VIN
Serves 6 to 8
Coq au vin is a real crowd-pleaser and I had it for the first time when my Uncle Pete cooked it for my birthday. His task was to feed 16 hungry, opinionated friends of mine in their early twenties. He carried this off, as he did with all things, with aplomb, style, much laughter and a gin and tonic in his hand. His infectious joy and ebullience went so well with this, his signature dish.
45 ml (3 Tbsp) olive oil; 12 pieces chicken (drumsticks and thighs work best); salt and pepper; 1 packet streaky or back bacon, diced; 500 g baby onions, pickling onions or shallots, peeled (at some supermarkets you are able to buy these already peeled and it is worth it as they can be tricky to peel); 2 onions, sliced; 2 stalks celery, sliced; 3 large carrots, thickly sliced 1 punnet (300g) mushrooms, sliced (portabellini give the best flavour); 2–3 cloves garlic, crushed; 750ml (1 bottle/3 cups) red wine; 250ml (1 cup) chicken stock; 5ml (1 tsp) dried thyme or 1 handful of fresh thyme
Heat the oil in a large stovetop-to-oven casserole dish with a lid.
Brown the chicken pieces in batches, 4–5 at a time. Season with salt and pepper, and set to one side.
In the same casserole and oil, gently fry the bacon until just cooked through. Add all the vegetables and garlic and stir in until they are finely glazed with oil. Allow to cook gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes until their flavours develop.
Add the wine, turn up the heat and simmer briskly for about 10 minutes until the wine has reduced by half. Add the stock and thyme and mix in well.
Return the chicken pieces to the wine mixture, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, partly cover with the lid and allow to simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the chicken is cooked through.
There is not a single recipe in this cookbook that we won’t try. Honestly, how often can you say that about a cookbook?
Well, you can about Bibby’s Kitchen … and mean every word. From the healthy chocolate Nutella (Dianne suggests you make double … good advice) to the Labneh breakfast cheesecake, from the trio of amazing hummus salad bowls to the Parmesan meatballs, from the no-bake caramel and walnut chocolate tart to the semolina orange syrup cake, it’s just page after page after delicious page of achievable, glorious recipes, for entertaining, for weeknight dinners, for those who love food and enjoy cooking.
Subtitled The essence of good food, Dianne says she’s not a chef, professional or otherwise. “Just a woman who loves to cook. A lot.” So for anyone who loves to cook – a lot – this one’s the perfect Homebru buy. Human & Rousseau, available from Exclusive Books for R429.
PARMESAN MEATBALLS WITH SUNDRIED TOMATO SAUCE
Comfort food, by definition, is food that evokes sentiment and nostalgia. It could remind you of home or your mother’s cooking. Most times, these ‘comforts’ involve carbs or sugar. If severely gripped, it probably means carbs followed by sugar. This to me is what comfort food looks like. Although spaghetti and meatballs is not strictly an Italian idea, but rather the invention of early 20th-century Italian immigrants in New York, it’s still a classic. Serve with buttered bruschetta or said pasta.
500g free-range lean beef mince; 125ml fresh brown breadcrumbs; 60ml Parmesan cheese, grated; 1 egg;
zest of half a lemon; 5ml dried oregano; 3,75ml fine salt; freshly ground black pepper
Sundried tomato sauce (Ingredients)
15ml olive oil; 1 large brown onion, finely diced; 1 garlic clove, minced; 3–4 sundried tomatoes (preserved in oil), mushed; 1 x quantity ready-made Napoletana sauce; 180 ml tomato passata; salt and freshly ground black pepper; a handful of fresh basil, to finish freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve; bruschetta, to serve
For the meatballs, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Roll into evenly sized balls. Aim to make around 20–22. Heat the olive oil in a wide-based pan. Brown the meatballs on all sides, then remove and set aside. In the remaining pan oils, sauté the onion until softened, 6–8 minutes. Add a little more oil if needed. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the sundried tomatoes, Napoletana sauce and passata. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs back into the pan, cover partially and simmer for 20 minutes.
Finish with basil and Parmesan. Serve the meatballs with warm bruschetta or tossed through penne pasta.
Books can be bought instore, or online, via Uber-Eats (food and books, who could ask for more?), phone-in or Insta-shop.
Spend more than R450 for free delivery and books take around 36 hours for delivery. Details: exclusivebooks.co.za