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Made with love

Chef Mynhardt Joubert knows the meaning of generous hospitality and foods of the gods … cooking with love in his home and restaurant. He shared these recipes … the ones we’d make for our mums this month.

Frozen margaritas. Rock star West Coast oysters. Lavender and vanilla butter. Sweet potato gnocchi with salmon cream. If you’re looking for a meal to spoil your mum this May, say hello to Mynhardt Joubert. This chef has been cooking from his Station Street Kitchen in Paarl in the Western Cape for the past five years, hosting dinners and using his home as a creative space and photographic studio. And this book, My Station Street Kitchen, is a reflection of his kitchen and the glorious meals that he creates. Mynhardt infuses everything he does with his enthusiasm, exuberance and love of food that incorporates his life experiences, from his childhood on a farm in the Eastern Free State to his travels around the world and through South Africa.

After a career in the arts, he found himself in the Cape, and falling in love with the world of food and wine. He was part of a trio who started a wine bar and eatery at Riebeek-Kasteel, then entered, and won, kykNET’s Kokkedoor reality food competition. He’s generous and warm and his personality comes through in his cookbook, which is filled with hints and tips and stories about each recipe. It’s not all flowery and fluffy (although we did select the prettiest dishes for our Mother’s Day suggestions) … there are recipes for proper hearty dishes too … lamb tails with gremolata, slow roasted beef cheeks with truffle-mash, French onion soup … all perfect for when the weather turns chilly. Beautiful, have-to-make-this inspiring photos, too. This Mother’s Day, make her the meal, then give her the book. My Station Street Kitchen by Mynhardt Joubert. Penguin, R380

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For this hibiscus gin & tonic with cucumber, mint, berries and candy stripe beetroot, you’ll need 1 cucumber, cut into ‘spaghetti’ strips or ribbons; 1 x 200g punnet any fresh berries (we like strawberries and blueberries); 2 medium candy stripe beetroots, rinsed and very thinly sliced; 200ml (8 tots) your favourite pink gin; 4 x 200ml bottles hibiscus-flavoured tonic water; a handful of fresh mint, rinsed; and ice.

To make, divide the cucumber, berries and beetroots into four gin glasses and fill with ice. Pour 50ml (2 tots) of gin in each glass and top up with the tonic water. Garnish each glass with mint and serve immediately.

Mediterranean aubergine and pomegranate salad

Inspiration for this dish came from Mynhardt’s ‘guardian angel’ Yotam Ottolenghi.

He and his team have adapted the recipe over the years and have tried various methods for cooking the aubergine – best is over searing-hot coals as the aubergine draws in all the smoky flavours. Mynhardt says he eagerly awaits autumn each year to be able to serve Mediterranean aubergine, fig and pomegranate salad – inspired by his ‘guardian angel’ Yotam Ottolenghi. It takes ten minutes to cook the aubergine, and twenty minutes of prep time for a wow-your-guests salad.

Serves four to six

You’ll need: 2 large aubergines, cut lengthways into 0.5cm-thick slices (or 12 baby aubergines, halved); extra-virgin olive oil; salt and pepper to taste; 250ml double-cream plain yogurt; 125ml extra-virgin olive oil; a handful of fresh mint, chopped; 15ml sumac; 1 clove garlic, minced; ½ English cucumber, diced into small cubes; white pepper to taste; 50g pine nuts, lightly toasted; 6 fresh purple Parisian (or Evita) figs, halved or quartered depending on size; seeds of 1 pomegranate; a bunch of fresh mint to serve

To make: Toss the aubergine slices in some olive oil and season to taste. Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot (or use your braai if it is ready). Grill on both sides until well charred and cooked (about five minutes per side depending on the heat of your pan/braai).

Mix the yogurt, 125ml olive oil, chopped mint, sumac, garlic, cucumber and seasoning (use white pepper here) and set aside. Arrange the grilled aubergines on a large, family-style platter or on four to six serving plates. Drizzle the yogurt dressing over the aubergines and top with the pine nuts, figs and pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle over the mint leaves just before serving.

Notes and tips: To give the figs a more caramelised flavour, roast them in the oven with some sugar and vinegar • Substitute the double-cream yogurt with cultured buttermilk if you prefer a more acidic dressing

Poppy seed cake

“We fell in love with this cake from an early age and it has featured at all kinds of festive family occasions over the years. My sister and I have adapted the recipe from the original, doubling all the ingredients for a sizeable and deliciously moist cake. It is rich and filling and ideal to present at birthdays or any occasion catering for many. Allow for at least a day to stand as the flavour and density will improve – you won’t regret the wait.” Serves 8 – 10

For the cake, you’ll need: 6 extra-large eggs; 630g castor sugar; 250ml canola oil; 500g double-thick plain yogurt; 150g poppy seeds; 160g desiccated coconut; 350g self-raising flour; edible fresh flowers to decorate; For the icing: 100g butter, softened; 400g crème fraîche; 130g icing sugar; 10ml vanilla paste or extract; 400g good-quality white chocolate, melted

To make: Preheat the oven to 180°C and line 2 well-greased 28cm loose-bottomed cake tins with baking paper, including up the sides. Cream the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the oil and yogurt and mix through. Add the poppy seeds, coconut and flour and mix thoroughly. Divide the batter between the prepared cake tins. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Turn out onto wire racks and leave to cool. Spread the icing in between each layer and stack the cakes, spreading the remaining icing on top. Decorate with fresh roses and/or other edible flowers.

Icing: Cream the butter and crème fraîche together with an electric beater. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and whisk through. While whisking, pour in the melted chocolate and whisk until thickened. Store at room temperature if you are not using immediately.

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