Birthday breakfast and Paradise found…

I feel innerly warmed to be called a friend of one supercool girl called Evelyn, and also sad that I could only spend one night at Seagull Cottage celebrating Evie’s 40th birthday.

The invite, ALWAYS very exciting receiving invites like this….

No 1. churchaven

Just one hour away from Cape Town lies this little piece of paradise… Churchhaven…. Seagull cottage…

No 3. churchhaven

Entering the Westcoast National Park, the views seems endless….

No 6. churchhaven

The Atlantic Ocean on the left, Westcoast National Park in the middle and the Langebaan lagoon on the right…

No 12. churchhaven

Seagull cottage, when I say Paradise found, I really mean it, ….. this cottage is not the normal “rental”, it is beautiful, a white sandy beach overlooking the Langebaan Lagoon, crisp white linen and fully equipped to the finest detail .

No 13. churchhaven

No 11. churchhaven

NO 9. churchhaven

Maya was in charge of supper and whipped up a quick “make yourself” pasta with a baked tomato,feta and oregano sauce…I just love the open plan kitchen where we cooked and laughed till early in the morning…

No 14. churchhaven

No 16. churchhaven

No 20. churchhaven

And tooooo quickly it was morning, and my turn to whip up a quick breakfast before I had to leave…

No 21. churchhaven

No 23. churchhaven

We started breakfast with a delicious seasonal fruit platter, served with thick Greek yoghurt, Blueberry coulis and drizzled honey…

For the Blueberry coulis simmer together 3 cups of fresh Blueberries and one cup of water, +/- 20 minutes. Drain / strain the cooked sauce, press out the juices from the cooked blueberries and push the juice through a strainer with the back of a spoon.. Discard the pips and skins…

Add 150ml sugar to the strained juice and simmer for another +/- 20 – 25 minutes until slightly thick, add 30 ml’s lemon juice and cool…

No 24. churchhaven

No 25. churchhaven

Breakfast views…. with pink Pelican’s walking the entire width of the white sandy beach in front of us…

No 29. churchhaven

Then it was time to whip out my “little crepe pan” …. which I take everywhere with me, and made omelettes filled with sweet red peppers and brown mushrooms….

No 30. churchhaven
No 31. churchhaven

And now it was time to go… I really did not want to leave… I did not even go for a walk on the beach as I just knew it would make it more difficult to leave everyone behind and hit the road…. I WILL go back to this cottage, hopefully for two nights and walk the beach….

No 32. churchhaven

Thanks for the most amasing fun time, thinking back my cheeks still hurt from laughing…

No 2. churchhaven

“hulle is goeie mense….” will never have the same meaning again…

Sweet and crunchy Pineapple, Carrot and red cabbage salad…sleepover at the dam….

Let me start by saying my “most used” recipe book this year is…….. A WEEK IN “THE KITCHEN” by Karen Dudley… a beautiful cookbook filled with “fresh” and “different” recipes… if I think of this book …. the words easy, GREAT GIFT, summer, make in advance, entertain, colours and over the top flavours comes to mind….

The recipe from this GREAT book that I want to share with you is the slightly revised CARROT CUMIN SLAW…

I’ve decided to serve this sweet and crunchy salad at our sleepover “braai” at the dam, in celebration of Melisse’s birthday… we are really spoilt with beautiful mountains surrounding the Elgin Valley, dams, rivers, forests and loads more…

Sleepover at the Dam...

Sleepover at the Dam…

At home: Make the Vinaigrette…
Shake in a jar…
2 tbsp creamy Dijon mustard
2 crushed garlic clove
2 tbsp castor sugar
8 tbsp white wine vinegar
16 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
a pinch of white pepper

Birthday at the dam...

Birthday at the dam…

Prepare all the “cutting” elements of the salad in advance at home, I’ve added it to a zip lock bag, ready to mix with the vinaigrette before serving.

Salad prepping...

Salad prepping…

Add to your ziplock bag:
1 tbsp toasted cumin seeds
1 baby red cabbage thinly sliced
3 carrots, cut julienne style
1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cut julienne style
Salt and pepper

Click on this link for a PDF format recipe cardSweet and crunchy pineapple carrot and red cabbage salad…. RECIPE CARD

While the adults set up camp, the children had the best party in the mud any child can dream off….

Following the stream...

Following the stream…


Kayaking on the dam...

Kayaking on the dam…


The Birthday girl...Happy happy Melissie...

The Birthday girl…Happy happy Melissie…


Leila... Abby's cuddle bunny...

Leila… Abby’s cuddle bunny…


BRRRRR time to get warm by the fire...

BRRRRR time to get warm by the fire…

After a long afternoon in the dam it was time to light the fires …but first the cake, thanks to Jacques ….

CAKE!!

CAKE!!

While they light the fire whip out that lovely platter, open the ziplock bag, add the vinaigrette and give it a good shake…

Serve and enjoy…

No 24. oakv

I cannot think of anything nicer than a sleepover at the dam, the campfire, the tents and loads of fresh air..

No 26. oakv

No 1. oakv

And the best part, is to take the dogs for an early morning walk….

Taking Leila for an early morning walk...

Taking Leila for an early morning walk…

IMG_8160

And then, jump back into the tent, with wet muddy paws and cuddle till the sun bakes you out of the tent…

Sleepovers at the dam… memories for our children…I love it….

When only the best will do, white chocolate pots served with fresh fruit… The Princess turns 40 …. Part 2 of 2

The secret….. keep the servings as small as possible… two to three tablespoons only, and your guests will dream sweet dreams of smooth creamy melt in your mouth heaven….

This is the ideal dinner party dessert, quick and easy make in advance….

Easy and make in advance...

Easy, make in advance…

click on the link for the recipe card in PDF format White chocolate pots ………. RECIPE CARD

For the White chocolate pots you will need:
250 g crème fraiche
250 ml fresh cream
400g GOOD quality white chocolate (I use Lindt or Woolworths organic)
1 x small tub of granadilla pulp
1 x packet crushed nutti crust biscuits
Strawberries OR raspberries

Beautiful strawberries

Beautiful strawberries

Crush the nutti crust biscuits until fine.

For jars, add 2 x tablespoons and for espresso cups, add 1 x tablespoon of fine nutti crust biscuits to each jar/cup.

Slowly mix the cream and crème fraiche until well combined (not whipped). Slowly heat the cream/crème fraiche mixture until near bubbling point. Take off the heat, add the finely chopped chocolate and slowly stir until melted, velvety and smooth.

Make sure you use only the very best white chocolate you can find..

Make sure you use only the very best white chocolate you can find..

Fill the jars or espresso cups with the melted white chocolate mixture, make sure you only fill them maximum half way, or less….

Don't over fill

Don’t over fill

Refrigerate until needed….

If you use strawberries, slice them into quarters and stir in the Granadilla pulp, refrigerate and add to the cups before serving. If you use raspberries, top the jars just before serving with the raspberries and spoon over some of the granadilla pulp.

While I topped the espresso cups, the girls got ready for a quick family shot..

Time for a quick family shot...

Time for a quick family shot…

Just lovely I think..

Just lovely I think..

We served the white chocolate espresso cups as part of a cheese platter… it looked beautiful and decadent and was a great end to an even greater evening…

Dust with icing sugar..

Dust with icing sugar..

The cheese platter with White Chocolate espresso cups

The cheese platter with White Chocolate espresso cups

I use the small jars with a lid for a sweet surprise at a picnic, see the pic below… at the Paul Cluver Amphitheatre. I cannot wait for this year’s summer concerts under the stars in the forest… pure magic…

Picnic dessert jars...

Picnic dessert jars…

Evie, the lucky recipient of a White Chocolate Jar at the Paul Cluver Amphitheatre...

Evie, the lucky recipient of a White Chocolate Jar at the Paul Cluver Amphitheatre…

Come on summer!!

Let the countdown begin to this year's summer concerts...

Let the countdown begin to this year’s summer concerts…

When only the best will do, Pear and Leek soup… served with blue cheese crostini, crispy bacon bits, fresh pear and micro greens… The Princess turns 40…. Part 1 of 2

Serve this fabulous, quick and easy soup when you need to impress!

Sweet juicy pears from the farm...

Sweet juicy pears from the farm…

When I was asked to make the starter and dessert for Shannon’s surprise 40th Birthday party I stressed, yes, I stressed a lot, as I knew she would expect only the very best, and I would really like to serve the very best for my foodie friend. I spend three weeks searching for ideas, and instantly knew that “this was the one”, from the Crush! online magazine. I knew that the flavours would work for her, pear, leek, a touch of blue cheese, bacon AND it is visually pleasing.

For the Pear and Leek soup you will need:

Saute the leeks...

Saute the leeks…

50g butter
1 chopped onion
2 leeks, finely sliced
6 ripe pears, peeled and cubed
4 cups of chicken stock
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
125 ml fresh cream
salt and pepper
FOR THE GARNISH:
1 packet streaky bacon
3 fresh pears
2 hot dog rolls (yes that is right)
1 block creamy blue cheese
one small punnet micro greens (optional)

Click on this link for a printable recipe card Pear and leek soup ………. RECIPE CARD

In advance, if you want to, sauté the onions and leeks in the butter until soft and translucent. Add the cubed pears and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the cubed potatoes and sauté a further 5 minutes.

Add the boiling chicken stock, simmer for +/- 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Cool for +/- 10 minutes and liquidize until smoooooooth and creamy. Put aside until just before serving.

Crispy baked bacon

Crispy baked bacon

Also in advance “bake” the bacon in your oven until very crispy, cool and cut into small pieces. Slice the hot dog rolls into 1cm slices and pack on an oven tray, add one thin slice of blue cheese to each of the hot dog rounds. Cover with cling wrap until serving.

Elzaan mastering the monster finger cutter...

Elzaan mastering the monster finger cutter…

30 Minutes before serving:
Warm the soup and add the cream, while warming the soup, toast the blue cheese crostini in the oven until crisp and the cheese melted. THINLY slice the fresh pears.

Add the little bits of very important garnish.

Add the little bits of very important garnish.

Serve the soup, topped with 2 x toasted blue cheese crostini’s (floating on top of the soup), one thin slice of fresh pear, bacon bits and beautiful micro greens…

Just perfect, for "when only the best" will do...

Just perfect, for “when only the best” will do…

Needless to say, nearly everyone wanted seconds…. it is very important to add the blue cheese crostini, sweet fresh pear, and bacon bits, it is a flavor and sensory explotion…

Our sexy host, Taryn....

Our sexy host, Taryn….

Taryn served a lovely chicken curry and then it was time for the dessert, to follow in Part 2 of 2….

Every party needs a beautiful cake!

Every party needs a beautiful cake (by Monique) and the VERY BEST wine you can afford (Oak Valley, by Pieter Visser)…

For those who have not turned 40 yet, please promise me you WILL do something nice and exciting for this very special “once in a lifetime” birthday party! Memories forever…

The Birthday girl with her mom and dad..

The Birthday girl with her mom and dad..

A special friend...

A special friend…

THE DESSERT to follow in part 2….

Celebrate winter citrus scents, at Babylonstoren

Babylonstoren, the perfect, perfect choice to celebrate a very special 40th Birthday.

After months of talk about visiting Babylonstoren, we eventually booked a garden tour and lunch during mid winter, yes we are a bit mad to do it in winter, a vegetable garden in winter… brown and dull… yes right, think again. We’ve heard so much about this beautiful Cape Dutch Farm founded in 1690, and it felt as if we were the only people who have not yet visited this much talked about farm between Franschoek and Paarl.

Our garden tour started at 10:00, and remember to book well in advance.

The start of our Garden Tour with Gundula

The start of our Garden Tour with Gundula

INSPIRATION, VEGETABLES, FRUIT TREES, BERRIES, BEES, DUCKS, CHICKENS, BABEL, THE GREEN HOUSE/TEAHOUSE, and lots lots more, all manicured to perfection.

Perfectly manicured walkways..

Perfectly manicured walkways..

Touch…..

Waterblommetjies...

Waterblommetjies…

See…

Waterblommetjies

Waterblommetjies

Learn…

Different depth trout ponds..

Different depth trout ponds..

Fun..

The birthday girl dancing around on the secret stones.. getting wet..

The birthday girl dancing around on the secret stones.. getting wet..

Our starter… Guavas

Seeing out lunch starter at Babel, still hanging on the tree...

Seeing out lunch starter at Babel, still hanging on the tree…

Our salad…

Our salad...

Our salad…

Entertainment…

Entertainment along the way...

Entertainment along the way…

Our starter of sweet potato getting digged out…

Part of my soft roasted vegetable skewer, getting prepped for the kitchen...

Part of my soft roasted vegetable skewer, getting prepped for the kitchen…

And then, it rained… can you smell the soil?

Smell the soil after the rain...

Smell the soil after the rain…

The happy chickens…

The chickens...

The chickens…

And the secret paths to the Clivia tunnel which we will visit in spring..

Secret paths..

Secret paths..

The prickly pear maize..

More smells along the way..

More smells along the way..

Citrus aromas…

Smell citrus..

Smell citrus..

Taste Citrus…

Taste citrus, loquats...

Taste citrus, loquats…

Creative beauty…

Creative beauty..

Creative beauty..

Gundula our very informative guide..

Gundula..

Gundula..

Quiet spaces..

Quiet areas in the garden..

Quiet areas in the garden..

More tasting..

Tasting Tree Tomatoes...

Tasting Tree Tomatoes…

The Beehives…

Enter the hive area..

Enter the hive area..

Different hives..

Getting up close and personal..

Getting up close and personal..

Making new friends…

Meeting interesting people along the way..

Meeting interesting people along the way..

and then, a well deserved rest at the GREEN HOUSE / TEAROOM

During spring, we will have lunch here...

During spring, we will have lunch here…

Visuals of the GREEN HOUSE

Themed, Citrus..

Themed, Citrus..

Refreshments in the GREEN HOUSE after our garden tour…

Refreshments..

Refreshments..

Visual stimulating Green House…

Pretty things...

Pretty things…

A sneak peak at someone’s snacky lunch at the Green House..

Snacks at the Green House..

Snacks at the Green House..

AND NOW…

It is LUNCH TIME...

It is LUNCH TIME…

At BABEL…

BABEL...

BABEL…

WINTER AT BABEL… Citrus..

WINTER at BABEL..

WINTER at BABEL..

Difficult choices..

What to choose...

What to choose…

GIFT TIME… a friendship “memory” book…

Friendship memories, captured over the last 7 years... preserved forever...

Frienship memories, captured over the last 7 years… preserved forever…

No words can describe our delicious starters… freshly from the garden…

No 51. baby

No 52. baby

And our mains…

No 53. baby

and yes yes yes we did share dessert…

Honey and lime crème brule with winter fruits...

Honey and lime crème brule with winter fruits…

Remember to wear comfy shoes…

Not sure if Babel was ready for my farm boots but it fitted right in and was lovely and warm..

Not sure if Babel was ready for my farm boots but it fitted right in and was lovely and warm..

and then, at the end of the day… it was time for one last small gift from Shannon’s husband, and I had the privilege the give it to her… hope you get the clue… and next June…

The "small" little gift box from Mike..

The “small” little gift box from Mike..

No 57. baby

And then we heard the ducks, we’ve forgotten all about them… and here they come, quack quack quack all in a row, all by themselves, going to their home in the middle of the garden.. this was just too sweet, and they kept coming… later on I was lying on my stomach to get the right shot, it was perfect timing , and we realized that it was time to go home…

No 60. baby

Everything at Babylonstoren was what we expected and soooooo much more…

We will be back in Spring…

and Summer

and Autumn…

Quick picnic cake… summer evenings at the dam

I love the picnic’s Mandy arrange for us on the farm, always on short notice as the weather needs to be picture perfect…. always a challenge for me to throw together something “different” to take along…

Last Friday was no different, the invite arrived at 11 in the morning, I baked this lovely quick cake over my lunch hour, went back to work till 16:30, iced the cake and arrived for our picnic at 17:30. Always up for a challenge, and loving every second of it…

We usually have a large sandy “beach”, but due to changing dam levels our “beach” was underwater….

Shallow water perfect for the kids...

Shallow water perfect for the kids…

For the quick picnic cake you will need:
No 22. friday at the dam slap bang cake
CAKE:
335g cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
185g softened butter
220g castor sugar
3 large free-range eggs
3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper. Sift flour, baking powder, add softened butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla and milk. Mix until smooth and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. Turn out and cool.

For the icing you will need:

No 14. friday at the dam slap bang cake

350g sifted icing sugar
80g white woodenspoon margarine
1t vanilla
Ripe cherries or raspberries or…

Whip the sifted icing sugar and softened margarine with the vanilla until light and fluffy. Spread over the cooled cake, cut into 5cm x 5cm blocks and decorate with red ripe cherries or raspberries…

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW FOR A PRINTABLE pdf RECIPE CARD:
Quick picnic cake… RECIPE CARD

Very late afternoon swimming in the liquid gold of the farm dam...

Very late afternoon swimming in the liquid gold of the farm dam…

And when it get’s too dark it is time for drying at the warmth of the fire with a thick slice of soft freshly baked cake…

Drying at the fire..

Drying at the fire..

No 24. friday night at the dam slap bang cake

CAKE PLEASE!!!

CAKE PLEASE!!!

We first have cake and then what is on offer from the braai…..

Driftwood braai next to the dam...

Driftwood braai next to the dam…

These summer evenings at the dam usually turns into a visual feast for my camera… the sun setting over the liquid gold water and the fire’s reflections over the water, and then it is time to pack out the battery operated fairy lights for soft light around the fire..

Liquid melted gold...

Liquid melted gold…

Creating memories for our children..

Evenings like this will create memories in our children's minds that will stay with them forever...

Evenings like this will create memories in our children’s minds that will stay with them forever…

Nicole, reading with the fairy lights... maybe it is time to go home.. as the walk back to the vehicles will be dark...

Nicole, reading with the fairy lights… maybe it is time to go home.. as the walk back to the vehicles will be dark…

The walk back to the car will be dark… wonder what we will forget at the water’s edge…. most likely some shoes, towels ect….

I CANNOT WAIT FOR OUR NEXT FRIDAY PICNIC…

Snack style dessert and cheese boards with Lemon Mousse ….. Let’s cook for 50 at a good friend’s 50th… Part 9 of 9

Shannon decided to serve small size sweet and cheese boards, one of each per 10 guests, snacky style…..

We’ve decided to add the shot glasses filled with lemon mousse for “visual effects…”, it needs to look good and one of our “mood boards” had a picture of these little shot glasses filled with chocolate mousse, with small spoons tied onto each glass with a ribbon. We changed the chocolate mousse to lemon mousse and let me tell you that the tying of the spoons to the little glasses neeeeeeeearly let me loose my cool, so if you like this idea, just put the spoon in the glas…..

What is easy about this dessert is that everything can be done before the time and you can ask one of your “creative” friends to pack the boards while you mingle with the guests, choose your friend well as this is all about “how it looks”…..

Our Boards consisted out of the following:

Sweet Boards
Lemon mousse shotglasses
Small chocolate brownie blocks
Strawberries
Turkish delight
Nougat

Shannon made the Lemon Mousse the evening before our lunch, as you need enough time to let it “set” properly…

For the Lemon Mousse you will need:
finely grated rind of 4 lemons and the juice of 3 lemons
8 large freerange eggs
250g castor sugar
1.5 (20gms) sachets powdered gelatine
450ml cream
1 small tin granadilla pulp
1 pkt Nuttikrust caramelised Oat biscuits – for the base

Whisk the egg yolks and gradually add the sugar, whisk till pale in colour and thick. Heat the lemon rind and lemon juice in a saucepan and add the gelatine. Over a slow heat stir and melt the gelatine into the lemon juice, bring the lemon juice to just before boiling point to make sure the gelatine dissolve completely.

While whisking, slowly pour the lemon juice into the sugar and egg mixture, whisk well. Let the mixture cool completely at room temperature. Fold the whipped cream into the eggy mixture. Whisk the egg whites until very stiff and fold into the eggy and cream mixture.

Liquidise the nuttikrust biscuits finely, and add about 1 teaspoon to the bottom of each shot glass. Spoon the mousse into the small shot glasses,…. be patient…. . Refrigerate over night. Just before serving add one teaspoon of granadilla pulp on top of the mousse.

We’ve used square wooden boards, +/- 30 x 25 cm’s wide. Pack with rows of lemon mousse shot glasses, and small heaps of strawberries, brownies, turkish delight and nougat. Dust with icing sugar …

So how excited can I get, seeing that our idea “worked” , VERY EXCITED when you look at it and just know that these sweet and cheese boards is going to blow Shannon away when I serve these to her and her guests at the lunch table (as per my previous posts, I told Shannon to go and sit down with her guests, heee haaaaa and took over her kitchen)……

Click on the link below for a printable PDF short recipe:
Lemon mousse RECIPE CARD

For the cheese boards we’ve used:
Purple figs cut in 4
Grapes
Brie
Camembert
Creamy Gorgonzola
2 x types biscuits (we love digestive biscuits)
Cheddar blocks
and almonds

This is where all the planning stopped, right here…..

BUT I had a little surprise up my sleave for Shannon……

I’ve planned a small coffee table, we did not plan to serve coffee but looking at the weather report I realised that it is going to be a very cool 15 degrees and realised that some of the guests might like to end their lunch with a late afternoon cup of coffee and something sweet… ooooo yesssss…… Ouma Babsie’s Caramel biscuits…. the ultimate coffee biscuit….. when you have one, you have 5….. and make it the next day at home…. see recipe under “sweet yummyness the very first recipe I posted on my blog.

I filled those plungers more than 8 times…..

Our lunch ended at 22:00 that night, or let me rather say that was when I called it the day……

Thanks Mike, and Happy Birthday!