Posted on

Cucumber Za’atar Salad

This Middle-Eastern salad is quick and easy to prepare and low in kilojoules.

2 English cucumbers

15 ml sugar
5 ml vinegar
15 ml olive oil
2.5 salt

To garnish
5 ml Za’atar Spice Mix
cherry tomatoes, halved
fresh parsley, finely chopped

  1. Peel, seed and slice the cucumbers into thin slices.  Or use an apple corer to seed the cucumber (see photo below).
  2. Combine the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a medium mixing bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the cucumber slices to the mixing bowl and toss lightly to mix.
  4. Place the cucumber slices decoratively on a salad platter and sprinkle with the Za’atar spice mix.
  5. Garnish with cherry tomatoes or parsley before serving.

Cucumber Zaatar Salad


Posted on

Avocado Ritz

Avocado ritz is delicious and an easy starter to make since avocados are plentiful throughout the summer.  Although it is not the most economical starter with the price of avo’s being what it is, it is a South African favourite. The seafood salad can also be spooned onto a bed of lettuce.

Continue reading Avocado Ritz
Posted on

Low-fat Panna Cotta


Authentic Italian panna cotta is quite high in fat and kilojoules, but in this lighter version some of the cream is replaced by milk, making it a viable dessert option for those following a low-fat lifestyle. It is just as tasty though!  Serve as is or with a fruit or chocolate sauce for a dreamy dessert.  Scroll down for the recipe for Coffee Panna Cotta.

500 ml milk
1 cinnamon stick or strip of lemon peel
50 ml sugar or xylitol
15 ml gelatine
50 ml cold water
few drops almond essence
250 ml cream, stiffly beaten

Chocolate sauce OR
± 1 cup (250 ml) blueberries, raspberries or strawberries
+/- 100 g coarsely chopped chocolate or any flaked chocolate bar preferred OR
250 ml f
ruit sauce, e.g. raspberry, strawberry, blackcurrant, etc.

  1. Place the milk into a saucepan with the cinnamon stick or lemon peel and bring to boil.  Remove from heat as soon as it boils and stir in the sugar. 
  2. Place the gelatine into a 500 ml ovenproof bowl or jug and cover with the water.  Microwave on MEDIUM for 30 seconds – 1 minute or stand over the steam of simmering water until melted.
  3. Stir the gelatine into the hot milk, remove the cinnamon stick or lemon peel and pour into a bowl to cool.
  4. Stand the bowl in a basin with water and ice or refrigerate until the mixture just starts to set at the sides.  Stir gently from time to time until softly set.
  5. Beat the cream until stiff and beat it into the partly set milk mixture until evenly blended.
  6. Pour into 6 to 8 ramekin dishes into stemmed bowls or glasses, ready for serving.
  7. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving from the stemmed bowls or glasses or loosen the sides and carefully turn out the moulded desserts onto a large platter or individual plates.
  8. To prepare the chocolate drizzle, melt 50 g dark chocolate with 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of cream in the microwave on Medium for 30 seconds or until the chocolate has softened. Mix well with a teaspoon to create a glaze and use to garnish the serving plates or drizzle over the Pannacotta.
  9. Alternatively decorate with fruit sauce or chocolates.

6 to 8 servings. 


Coffee Panna Cotta

375 ml cream
125 ml milk
50 ml sugar
15 ml gelatine powder
150 ml strong coffee for instance Espresso OR
150 ml boiling water mixed with 15 ml strong instant coffee granules
50 ml Kahlua or similar coffee liqueur

Garnish (optional)
125 ml  whipped cream
chocolate drizzle (see below) or chocolates (e.g. Cadbury Whispers)

  1. Place the cream, milk and sugar into a saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. Place the gelatine into a 500 ml ovenproof jug or bowl and add the coffee or water and the instant coffee granules.  Microwave on MEDIUM for 30 seconds – 1 minute or stand over the steam of simmering water until melted.
  3. Add the gelatine and liqueur to the cream and mix well until evenly blended.
  4. Pour the mixture into individual small or one large bowl to set.
  5. Garnish with the cream and/or chocolate drizzle or chocolates.


  • Cover well and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • This dessert is excellent to make for many.  The dessert may be moulded in small individual bowls or moulds or  in large moulds or decorative dessert bowls.
  • If you plan to unmould the pannacotta, refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours before unmoulding.

Recipes by Carolié de Koster.

Be sure to also try the basic Authentic Panna Cotta and the Goat’s Cheese Panna Cotta With Raspberries recipes.

Posted on

Spinach Gnudi

Gnudi (pronounced nude-y), is basically meatless meatballs, and the best way to eat spinach!  I adapted this recipe from a recipe by Canadian-Italian celebrity chef David Rocco.   It is a firm family favourite and I get requests to make it often!

600 g baby spinach leaves
1 large egg, (yolk only)
60 ml spring onion, finely chopped
200 g ricotta cheese, crumbled
50 g parmesan cheese, grated
5 ml salt
10 ml crushed garlic
150 ml cake flour or additional grated parmesan cheese

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180º C and grease an ovenproof dish (20 x 20 cm) with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Transfer the spinach in a large saucepan with just the water that clings to the spinach and sauté gently until wilted. 
  3. Transfer the spinach to a colander and set aside to cool for 30 minutes.
  4. Combine the egg yolk, spring onion, ricotta cheese, salt and garlic in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Squeeze out as much as possible of the liquid out of the spinach and chop the spinach finely.
  6. Take a handful of the chopped spinach at a time and squeeze again to get it as dry as possible before transferring it to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Do the same with the rest of the spinach.
  7. Add just enough flour or additional grated parmesan cheese to bind the mixture, i.e. the mixture must hold its shape when formed into a ball.
  8. Using oiled hands, take a tablespoon of the mixture at a time and shape into 16 to 20 balls – about the size of a golf ball.
  9. Place the balls in the dish and brush with a little olive oil.
  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  11. Serve the gnudi warm as a vegetable side dish.

Makes between 16 and 20 balls.


Posted on

Cherry Tomato & Green Bean Salad With Lemon

I love to make this dish, which can be served either hot or cold, during the festive season, as it reminds me of Christmas trees and Christmas Baubles, but you can definitely enjoy it right through the year!

700 g green beans, topped and tailed
5 ml canola or coconut oil
1 large onion, sliced
zest of 1 large lemon, finely chopped
5 ml crushed garlic or garlic & herb seasoning
500 g cherry tomatoes
2.5 ml salt or seasoning of your choice
freshly ground black pepper

  1. Weigh the beans with an electronic kitchen scale to determine the weight if you don’t have the exact amount.
  2. Cut the beans into 3 cm sections and rinse the beans in a colander under running water.
  3. Steam the beans for 5 to 8 minutes in a steaming basket on the stove, in an electric steamer or in the microwave.  Be careful not to overcook the beans – they need to be firm and crisp.
  4. Rinse the beans under cold water and set it aside.
  5. Zest the lemon with a zester and chop the zest finely.  Set it aside.
  6. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, lemon zest, garlic or garlic and herb seasoning and stir-fry with a turner for a few minutes until tender.
  7. Add the tomatoes and stir-fry for a further 2 to 3 minutes. The tomatoes must still be whole, i.e. remove the saucepan from the stove before they burst open.
  8. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  9. Add the green beans and heat through.
  10. Transfer the bean mixture to a serving dish and serve hot or at room temperature as a vegetable side dish.

8 to 10 servings.

Add slivers of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese to the beans when ready to serve.

Posted on

Meatballs With Basil, Lemon & Pine Nuts

This recipe is a modern take on “spaghetti and meatballs”, which is not an authentic Italian dish but an American invention.  The meatballs are given Italian flavors and is served with a marinara sauce.  Marinara sauce originates from Naples, Italy and comes from the Italian word, marinaro, meaning sailor.  In his book How Italian Food Conquered the World  John Mariani explains how the sauce was named: “There was a simple one of garlic, oil, and tomatoes called marinara, supposedly because it was made quickly, as soon as the mariners’ wives spotted their husbands returning fishing boats in the distance.”

Continue reading Meatballs With Basil, Lemon & Pine Nuts
Posted on

Asian Spinach Bundles

This is one of my favourite ways to eat spinach.  Be sure to try it – even if you are not a spinach fan!

200 g large, fresh spinach leaves (the leaves should be about the size of your hand)
250 ml coconut chips or shavings, toasted
2 medium lemons, thinly sliced
250 ml spring onion, thinly sliced
250 ml salted peanuts or almonds
250 ml sweet Thai chilli sauce

Dipping sauce
125 ml soy sauce
60 ml white vinegar
30 ml white sugar (or more to taste)

  1. Rinse the spinach leaves cut them smaller if necessary.
  2. Shake off the excess water and place the spinach leaves decoratively on a serving platter.  Set it aside.
  3. Toast the coconut chips in a dry pan until lightly browned.  Be careful not to burn them!
  4. Transfer the coconut chips to a serving bowl.
  5. Slice the lemon thinly on a chopping board with a cook’s knife and remove the pips.
  6. Chop the lemon finely and transfer it to a serving bowl.
  7. Transfer the spring onion and the nuts to serving bowls.
  8. Transfer the sweet thai chili sauce to a serving bowl.
  9. Cover each bowl with a lid or cling wrap and refrigerate until required.
  10. To make the dipping sauce, combine the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk with a fork until the sugar is dissolved.  Transfer it to a serving bowl.
  11. To eat, place a spinach leaf on your plate.  Place half a teaspoon of each of the fillings in the middle of the leaf, fold it into a little bundle, dip it into the sauce and enjoy!

8 to 10 servings.

Place half a teaspoon of the nuts, coconut, spring onion, lemon and Sweet Thai Chilli sauce onto the spinach

Gather the spinach into a bundle

Dip the bundle into the soy sauce and enjoy!

Posted on

Baby Marrow, Bacon & Mushroom Boats

These boats can be filled with a variety of stuffings.  Omit the bacon for a vegetable side dish.

500 g large baby marrows, topped and tailed
125 g bacon, diced
50 ml creme fraiche
250 g mushrooms, chopped
125 ml spring onion, thinly sliced
10 ml seasoning of your choice, e.g. Rosemary & Olive, Italian Cheese, etc.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
100 ml Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated

To garnish
fresh parsley

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 ºC  and line a baking tray with a Wizbake sheet.
  2. Cut the baby marrows in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds so that it looks like boats.
  3. Steam them in a steamer until almost cooked but not soft.
  4. While the baby marrows are steaming, fry the bacon in a non-stick pan until cooked.  Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a chopping board.  Chop it finely and set it aside.
  5. Add the creme fraiche, mushrooms, spring onion, seasoning and salt and pepper to the pan and stir-fry until cooked.
  6. Stir in the bacon and mix well.
  7. Transfer the baby marrow to the baking tray and scoop teaspoonfuls of the filling onto the baby marrows.
  8. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through.
  9. Transfer the baby marrow to a serving dish and garnish with parsley.

4 to 6 servings.

– Omit the bacon for a vegetarian dish.



Posted on

Thermomix ® Banting Bread

This bread is made from banting-friendly ingredients such as almonds, desiccated coconut and coconut oil.  The bread will be ready to eat in 45 minutes, which includes the prep and baking time!

100 g flax or linseed
100 g almonds
30 g desiccated coconut
1.25 ml bicarb of soda
5 ml baking powder
5 ml salt
1.25 ml stevia
125 g water
5 large egg whites
2 large eggs
70 g coconut or olive oil

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 and grease and line a 10 x 20 cm loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Place the flax seed in the TM bowl and mill for 10 seconds on speed 10. St it aside.
  3. Place the almonds in the TM bowl and mill for 12 to 15 seconds on speed 10.  Set it aside.
  4. Place the almonds in the TM bowl and mill for 12 to 15 seconds Place the coconut in the TM bowl and mill for 15 seconds on speed 10. Set it aside.
  5. Place the almonds in the TM bowl and mill for 12 to 15 seconds. 
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and blend for 6 seconds on speed 4.
  7. Add the water, egg whites, whole eggs and oil of your choice.
  8. Blend for 20 seconds on speed 6. You may need to scrape down the sides after 15 seconds and continue after 5 seconds.
  9. Transfer the batter to the lined tin and sprinkle with additional seeds if you like.
  10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  11. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the tin.
  12. Turn out and cool completely before cutting
  • Slice the bread and store in Ziplock bags in the freezer.
  • The bread can be toasted with great success.