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A Tough Nut To Crack

An allergy to tree nuts is one of the most common food allergies. A food allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to an allergen (protein) in a food. Tree nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts and walnuts. Along with peanuts and shellfish, it is also one of the food allergens most frequently linked to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that impairs breathing and can send the body into shock.

There’s often confusion between tree nuts and peanuts.  A peanut is a legume (belonging to the same family as soybeans, peas and lentils), not a tree nut. The proteins in peanuts are similar in structure to those in tree nuts.  Between 25 and 40 percent of individuals who are allergic to peanuts also react to at least one tree nut.  The good news is that it was previously believed that an allergy to peanuts was lifelong, but recent research shows that about 20 percent of individuals with a peanut allergy eventually outgrow it.

Symptoms of a tree nut or peanut allergy include:

  • Abdominal pain, cramps, nausea and vomiting (tree nut allergy only)
  • Diarrhea (tree nut allergy only)
  • Difficulty swallowing (tree nut allergy only)
  • Itching of the mouth, throat, eyes, skin or any other area (tree nut allergy only)
  • Itchy skin or hives, which can appear as small spots or large welts (peanut allergy only)
  • An itching or tingling sensation in or around the mouth or throat (peanut allergy only)
  • Nasal congestion or a runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath (tree nut allergy only)
  • Anaphylaxis (less common with a tree nut allergy)

Tips for avoiding nuts, especially peanuts:

  • To avoid the risk of anaphylaxis, people with a peanut allergy must be very careful about what they eat. Peanuts and peanut products are commonly found in candies, cereals and baked goods, such as cookies, cakes and pies.  Also in take-aways and food served at restaurants.
  • Foods that don’t contain peanuts can get contaminated if they are prepared in the same place or using the same equipment. As a result, people with a tree nut or peanut allergy should avoid products that bear precautionary statements on the label, such as “may contain peanuts” or “made in a factory that uses nut ingredients.” Note that the use of those advisory labels is voluntary, and not all manufacturers do so.  Check the label each time you buy a product. Manufacturers sometimes change recipes, and a trigger food may be added to the new one.
  • Look for peanuts outside the kitchen. In addition to foods, nuts can be in lotions, shampoos, and pet food. Check labels before you buy or use them.

If you’re cooking meals from scratch at home, it’s easy to modify recipes to remove peanut ingredients and substitute ingredients that aren’t allergens.  Some people who can’t tolerate peanuts or eat peanut butter can consume other nut or seed butters. See my post “Nuts about butter” for information on nut butters.


A peanut plant pulled from the soil
Peanuts In A Pod


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Get Cracking!

The word “nutcracker” might conjure up images of the nutcracker soldier from the “Nutcracker Ballet” rather than the kitchen tool used to crack open the shells of nuts. It is quite understandable as this popular ballet has become the most widely performed ballet in the world. The beloved ballet tells the story of a little girl named Clara who is given a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve. She encounters the frightful King Rat before embarking on a wondrous journey through the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets.


In 1816, German author E.T. Amadeus Hoffmann wrote the novel “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” which is the work that inspired the famed ballet “The Nutcracker” and Tchaikovsky’s accompanying score, “The Nutcracker Suite.” The ballet and its music continue to be a holiday tradition throughout the world, and are the reason nutcrackers are associated with Christmas.

Nutcrackers in the shapes of animals and people were popular at parties, as cracking nuts was a light task to engage guests over conversation after dinner.   Nutcrackers can be divided into two groups. The first one is the decorative nutcracker often seen at Christmas time (not so much in South Africa though) and the second is the industrial steel tool that one would find in a kitchen drawer. Both types are functional nutcrackers, and which type to buy depends upon buyer preference and the nutcracker’s intended use.

The oldest known metal nutcracker dates back to somewhere between 300 and 400 BC, and prior to that, nuts were cracked with stones. In the 1500s and 1600s AD, woodcarvers began making beautiful and elaborate wooden nutcrackers that were both functional and decorative. In the 1800s, screw nutcrackers were invented. At first, the screw nutcrackers were very simple, but soon they evolved to become more elaborate and decorative.  It was during the 18th and 19th centuries that wooden nutcrackers started to be carved into the likenesses of humans, animals, and characters. Decorative nutcrackers come in limitless sizes, colors, and shapes. There are nutcrackers that look like kings, soldiers, animals, cartoon characters, and other novelties.

I include photo’s of a few interesting nut crackers I found online.







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Sunshine In A Packet

From the small town of Montagu on the foot of the Langeberg, comes the success story of Montagu Dried Fruit and Nuts – one of SA’s foremost dried fruit, nuts and seed importers and suppliers.  Established 13 years ago the company prides itself in acquiring, processing, packaging and distributing top quality dried fruit, nuts and seeds and related products.  Their range consists of fruit, seeds and nuts in bars or rolls, snack- or strip packs or even in the form of sweets – all in bright, attractive packaging allowing a clear view of the Montagu quality assured contents.

With a national network of franchise stores, Montagu brings ‘sunshine in a packet’ to the whole of South Africa.  In addition to their top quality dried fruit and nuts they’ve also partner with the likes of internationally acclaimed Willow Creek, Ashton Cellars, Bellair yogurt and carob coated dried fruit and nuts, red espresso and Health Connection Wholesale and supply these and other top quality products that support a healthier lifestyle in their stores.

Montagu has something for every taste. There are interesting alternatives for school-going children and students, with a wide choice for home entertainers and those on the look-out for something to add interest to recipes.  Working adults, who need a healthy snack to keep up energy levels, also won’t need to venture further than their nearest Montagu Dried Fruit and Nuts store.

Montagu Dried Fruit and Nuts have more than 115 stores country wide with more opening this year.  For more information about their products, health benefits and lip-smacking recipes visit their website, Facebook page or Twitter.

To stand a chance to win a hamper of your favorite Montagu products to the value of R500.00, visit the Montagu store at Cresta (next to Pick ‘n Pay).  All you need to do is to visit the Montagu store at Cresta (next to Pick ‘n Pay) and take a selfie of yourself with a basket filled with your favorite  Montagu products.  Send the photo and your contact details to The competition will close on 31 July 2015.  Winners will be announced on the Montagu Dried Fruits Facebook page.

Twitter:  @Montagudfn





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Nuts About Butter

Jozi’s Nut Butters are quality, artisan nut butters that are not only completely natural, but also healthy and delicious! It is currently available in the following flavors: Classic Almond, Classic Cashew, Toasted Coconut Cashew and 4 peanut varieties:  Classic, Chocolate Truffle, Toasted Coconut and Dark Dark Chocolate.  I cannot wait to try their Macadamia Nut Butters which will be available in July!

With Jozi’s Nut Butters you get:

  • No added oils, sugars, preservatives
  • Completely hand-crafted with primarily local, all-natural and organic ingredients
  • 100% all-natural (ensuring that what you get is only healthy ingredients unlike most common peanut/nut butter brands which hide lots of added canola or palm oil and refined sugars)
  • Nut butters are excellent sources of protein and fibre as well as the necessary good fat (unsaturated fat) that everyone needs
  • Banting-friendly butters – Cashew and Almond.


The Fourways Farmers Market (Sundays 9h00-15h00) – Back in July!
Jackson’s Real Food Market (Bryanston)
Leafy Greens (Muldersdrift)
Fresh Earth (Emmarentia)
Eastern Temptations (Emmarentia)
Braeside Meat Market (Parkhurst)
The Whippet (Linden)
Fruits and Roots (Bryanston)
All Doppio Zero Restaurants – look for Jozi’s Classic Almond Butter on their winter breakfast menu!!
Impala Fruit & Veg Market (Impala Center, Northcliff)
Impala Fruit & Veg Market (LifeStyle Crossing, Weltevreden Park)
Organic Emporium (Bryanston)
The Parks (Benoni)
Nuts About Snacks (Benoni)
Urban Angel Cafe (Boskruin)
Aurelie’s Health & Lifestyle Cafe (Midrand)
Cheese Gourmet Cafe & Shoppe (Linden)
Greenside Guru (Greenside)
Juiced (Braamfontein)
Rafael’s Food Emporium (Maboneng)
Hill Café (Constitution Hill, Hillbrow)

Available online from 1 July 2015.

Price range: From R40.00 for 265 g

Contact: or 084 753 0021

Jozi’s Nut Butters was established in February 2014 and is a social enterprise business through the local non-profit Oasis South Africa (, with the purpose of creating jobs and bursaries to UNISA for young unemployed women in Johannesburg, specifically those who are often excluded in the employment market. They provide a supportive workplace where women can grow and acquire the professional, and life skills as well as a degree to earn a living wage.



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Pear, Blue Cheese, Cashew Nut & Salted Caramel Salad

An impressive balance of ingredients turned into a salad which will feature well on any festive menu. The slightly bitter, sweet and salty caramel shard resembles amber coloured stained glass and adds flavour, texture and sparkle to this quick to assemble salad.  Variations for this Pear and Cheese salad are found on menus of restaurants world wide! According to Carolié, after 5 years in New Zealand she still harbours fond memories of Tashas Morningside (Johannesburg) where there were always queues outside and she regularly enjoyed this salad!  The walnut wood bowl in the photo was made by Carolié’s husband Adri!

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: ±5 minutes for caramel shard

– Use any favourite salad dressing or prepare the dressing below in advance and chill it well to have ready when the salad is made.
– Prepare the shard in advance and store airtight until required.
– Adding bacon & avocado is good but optional – suit yourself!
– Prepare each salad separately in an individual bowl or arrange on a large platter.
– Layer the lettuce leaves with the pear slices and scatter the remaining ingredients over the top.

Salted Caramel Shard
½ cup (125 ml) sugar
¼ tsp (1 ml) salt

Salad Dressing
2 Tbsp (30 ml) white / white balsamic / white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
1 egg yolk (optional but good – use very fresh eggs)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) apple juice
3 Tbsp (45 ml) olive oil
good pinch white pepper
¼ tsp (1 ml) salt
½ tsp (2.5 ml) favourite prepared mustard
1 tsp (5 ml) sugar or honey (or a little more to taste)
½ tsp (2.5 ml) chopped garlic
ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salad Ingredients
1 pack favourite lettuce / mixed salad greens (for 4 servings)
1 x 400 g tin pear halves in natural juice, drained and sliced
±½ cup (50 g / 125 ml) roasted cashew nuts (natural or salted)
±½ cup (50g /125 ml) diced favourite blue cheese (e.g. Roquefort)
1 firm ripe avocado, peeled, diced & tossed with dressing (optional)
±125 g rindless bacon rashers, diced and fried until crisp (optional)

To garnish
chives, spring onion and/or sprouts

  1. Line the baking tray with foil and coat it with a thin layer of non-stick cooking spray or oil.
  2. Mix the sugar and salt and sprinkle a thin even layer onto the foil – covering more or less the size of a dinner plate (20 cm diameter).
  3. Position the oven rack 10 cm away from the grill and preheat the grill.
  4. Place the baking tray onto the rack to melt the sugar.
  5. Remove the baking tray from the oven once the sugar has melted and tilt the pan from side to side to allow the melted syrup to cover any remaining sugar crystals and form an even layer of syrup on the foil. Return the pan to the oven briefly until the syrup turns a light amber gold colour. Take good care while melting and browning – the syrup must not scorch.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Lift the caramel away from the foil and break into pieces like broken glass. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
  7. To prepare the dressing, place all the ingredients into a jar, seal en shake well. Refrigerate until required. Shake well before using.
  8. Assemble the salad decoratively layering the leaves with the pear slices, nuts, cheese and bacon and avocado if used.
  9. Drizzle with dressing and garnish with the caramel shards and spring onion.
  10. Serve the salad soon after adding the shards.

4 servings.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.



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A Florentine biscuit is a French pastry that is erroneously attributed to Italian cuisine. The Florentine was first made in France at the Palace of Versailles by the king’s top pastry chefs for visiting in-laws, the Medici family of Florence.  Due to these close ties to Florence, it is not surprising that the French named this popular delicacy after the capital of Tuscany, Italy.  Florentines are made of nuts (most typically hazel and almond) and candied cherries mixed with sugar or honey and butter and baked in the oven.  They are often coated on the bottom with chocolate. Other types of candied fruit are used as well.  This recipe is a simplified version of authentic florentines.

200 g flaked almonds, toasted or 100 g each flaked almonds and hazelnuts
30 g butter, melted
2 large egg whites or 60 ml cream
100 g icing sugar
30 ml cake flour
60 ml red or green glacé cherries, finely chopped (optional)
60 ml raisins (optional)

100 g white, milk or dark chocolate, melted

  1. Toast the almonds in a dry pan on a medium heat until light brown.  Watch them carefully as they burn very easily!  Transfer the almonds to a plate to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with Wizbake baking sheets.
  3. Combine the butter, egg whites, icing sugar and flour in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  4. Add the glace cherries and/or raisins if used, as well as the toasted almonds and mix well.
  5. Spoon 20 to 30 heaps of batter onto the baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden. Set the baking trays aside to allow the biscuits to harden and cool completely.
  7. Serve as is or brush melted chocolate on the underside of the biscuits.  Use a fork and make a wavy line on each biscuit.  Alternatively drizzle melted chocolate over the biscuits.  Set the biscuits aside until the chocolate has set.
  8. Store the biscuits in an airtight container between layers of baking paper to prevent sticking.

16 to 20 biscuits.

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Chicken, Beef or Pork Satay With Peanut Sauce

Satay is a dish of marinated, skewered and grilled meat, typically served with peanut sauce.   Diced or sliced chicken, mutton, beef, pork or fish can be used.  It is grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire, then served with various spicy seasonings.

1 kg chicken, beef or pork fillet or a combination
100 ml soy sauce
15 ml fish sauce
15 ml sugar
15 ml lime or lemon juice
15 ml crushed garlic
15 ml minced ginger
5 ml ground ginger
± 20 bamboo sticks (± 20 cm long)

Peanut sauce
10 ml crushed garlic
30 ml sesame oil
30 ml soya sauce
30 ml rice vinegar
30 ml sweet chilli sauce
100 ml smooth peanut butter
200 ml coconut cream

To serve
lime wedges
fresh coriander

  1. Soak the sticks in a shallow dish with water for 1 hour to prevent them from scorching during cooking.
  2. Mix together the soy sauce, fish sauce, lime or lemon juice, garlic and ginger in a large mixing bowl or a container with a lid.
  3. Cut the meat into 2 cm x 2 cm cubes and it to the marinade.
  4. Cover the bowl with cling film or cover the container with a lid.  Marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180 ° C.
  6. Thread the meat onto the sticks.  Leave 5 cm open at the one end of the stick for holding.
  7. Place the satay on an oven tray or roasting tin lined with foil and bake on the middle shelf for 10 – 15 minutes on each side until cooked through.  The satay can also be barbequed for 5 – 7 minutes on each side.
  8. Baste the satay with the leftover marinade while it is baking or grilling.
  9. In the meantime, combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and heat while stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving dish.
  10. Serve the satay hot with the peanut sauce (room temperature or heated).

8 to 10 servings.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

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Coffee Apple Walnut Cake

An unusual combo which makes a stunning cake!

1⁄2 cup (125 ml or 125 g) butter, slightly softened
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
2 large eggs
11⁄2 cups (375 ml) cake flour or gluten‐free baking mix
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
150 ml full cream natural yoghurt or sour cream
1 cup (250 ml) grated apple (2 small )
1⁄2 cup (125 ml) strong black coffee, cooled
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla essence
1⁄2 cup (125 ml) chopped walnuts
icing sugar to dust

To serve
whipped cream (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line the base of a 20 cm square or round cake tin with baking paper. Grease the sides with butter.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and yoghurt or sour cream and beat again.
  4. Add the apples, coffee, vanilla and nuts and mix until combined.
  5. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, lift out and dust generously with icing sugar.
  7. Cut into squares or wedges to serve, as is or with whipped cream.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.


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Nutty Bacon & Pea Salad

This is one of my favorite salads by far – and I am not really a pea person!  This is the banting-friendly version of Carolié de Koster’s Nutty Bacon & Pea Salad from the Art Of Cooking Recipe book p. 472.

250 g rindless bacon, cooked and finely chopped
100 g pecan nuts or walnuts, coarsely chopped
50 g Grana Padana or Parmigiano Regiano cheese, grated (optional)
250 ml frozen peas
250 ml celery, finely chopped
125 ml spring onion, thinly sliced
125 ml creme fraiche or natural yoghurt
salt & freshly ground black pepper
200 g mixed baby lettuce, rinsed and dried with paper towel

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 º C and line two large baking trays with Wizbake baking sheets.
  2. Place the bacon strips in a single layer on the baking trays and bake for about 10 minutes or until crispy. Alternatively, fry a few slices of bacon at a time in a saucepan.
  3. Chop the cooled bacon coarsely and set it aside.
  4. Prepare the rest of the ingredients (see photo below) and combine it in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Season to taste with salt, pepper or seasoning of your choice and mix well.
  6. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavours to blend.
  7. When ready to serve, tear the lettuce leaves into bite-sized pieces and line a large salad platter or individual plates with the lettuce.
  8. Add the bacon to the bowl and mix well.  Spoon the mixture onto the bed of lettuce and serve immediately.



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Flourless Peanut Butter Biscuits

Also known as “miracle” cookies, these cookies only have three ingredients, are quick to make and they are also gluten-free.

2 large eggs
5o0 ml sugar
500 ml peanut butter, smooth or crunchy is good
2.5 ml vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 º C and line two baking trays with Wizbake baking sheets.
  2. Combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the peanut butter and mix until quite smooth.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough into small balls and place it onto the baking tray allowing room for spreading.
  6. Use a fork and press a pattern onto the biscuits.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool a few minutes on the tray before placing onto a cooling rack.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

24 cookies.


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Spicy Nuts

You and your guests will not be able to stop snacking on these nuts!

400 g unsalted mixed nuts or 100 g each almonds, macadamias, cashews and pecans
15 g butter or 15 ml oil

Spice Mixture
5 ml salt
10 ml brown sugar
5 ml paprika
5 ml ground cumin
2 ml ground coriander
1 – 5 ml chilli powder, cayenne pepper or dried chilli flakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Heat the butter or oil and mixed spices in a heavy based saucepan and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute, stirring. Add the nuts and toss to coat evenly.
  3. Turn out the nuts onto a baking tray lined with a Wizbake baking sheet and spread the nuts out in a single layer.
  4. Bake 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  5. Cool and store in an airtight container until required or up to a month or two.

Makes 400 g or about 1 liter roasted nuts.


  • Try your own variation with spices or seasonings for the nuts such as Cajun seasoning.
  • Mexican-style spice mixture – replace the spice mixture above with the following sweet and spicy mixture:

30 ml castor sugar
5 ml ground cinnamon
3 ml salt
1 ml ground cloves
1 ml ground allspice
1 ml cayenne pepper


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Fresh Pear & White Chocolate Strudel With Raspberry Sauce

A true gourmet dessert which combines the elegance and sophistication of phyllo pastry with the goodness of fresh fruit. The filled phyllo pastry rolls may be fitted into a round cake tin to form a most decorative twist or placed onto baking trays to make 2 small or one large strudel.

Phyllo Pastry
6 sheets phyllo pastry
± 100 ml butter

Chocolate & Nut Mixture
50g/125 ml  coarsely chopped pecan nuts
50 ml   dried breadcrumbs
30 ml   sugar
2,5 ml   ground cinnamon

Pear Filling
500 g firm, ripe pears
60 ml sour cream
30 ml sugar
2,5 ml ground cinnamon

Raspberry or BlueBerry Sauce
500 g frozen or fresh unsweetened raspberries/blueberries
200 ml white sugar
100 ml water


1 x 410 g   tin blueberries / raspberries in syrup
10 ml cornflour
30 ml water
30 ml black raspberry liqueur e.g. Chambord or suitable liqueur e.g.Kirsch (optional)

To Serve & Garnish
icing sugar to dust
mint leaves and tiny flowers

  1. Place the sheets of phyllo pastry onto a cloth and cover with another dry and then a damp cloth.
  2. Place the butter into a small saucepan or suitable jug and melt on top of the stove or in the microwave on MEDIUM for 1 – 2 minutes.
  3. Combine the chocolate, nuts, breadcrumbs, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  4. Peel and core the pears and slice thinly into a bowl.
  5. Add the sour cream , sugar and cinnamon and toss together.
  6. Lay out two sheets of phyllo pastry next to each other, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with 1/2 of the chocolate and nut mixture.
  7. Repeat once more, cover with the last sheets and brush with butter or margarine only.  Note: If a large strudel is made, place the two stacks on top of each other at this stage.
  8. Spread the pear filling onto the layered phyllo pastry, leaving 50 mm at the edges uncovered. Fold the sides over the filling and roll up neatly.
  9. To make the twist, bend the 2 small rolls and place into a 220 mm spring-form cake tin, brushed with melted margarine, with the ends of the rolls fitting in between each other.
  10. To make the strudels, place onto a baking tray lined with a Wizbake baking sheet and brush the tops op the strudels generously as well.
  11. Bake at 180°C for ± 35 minutes for the twist or small strudels and 45 minutes for the large strudel or until golden and crisp.
  12. If the pastry browns too soon, cover loosely with foil as soon as the desired colour is reached and continue baking for the rest of the specified time to ensure that the filling and inner layers of pastry will be thoroughly cooked.
  13. To make the sauce, if fresh or frozen berries are used, place the berries and sugar into a saucepan and cook over moderate heat while stirring until the sugar dissolves and the berries soften.
  14. Leave whole or strain through a coarse sieve and discard the seeds.
  15. Return the puree if made to the saucepan or place the canned fruit and sauce into the saucepan and stir in the cornflour mixed with the 30 ml water.
  16. Bring to boil while stirring until the sauce becomes thickened and translucent. Cool, stir in the liqueur and serve warm or refrigerate.
  17. Remove the twist or the strudels from the tins carefully and dust generously with icing sugar.
  18. Cut the twist into sections to serve – not into slices as for a cake.
  19. Cut the small strudels into 40 – 50 mm sections or slice the large strudel into 20 mm thick slices. An electric knife simplifies the task.
  20. To serve, pour about 30 ml of the fruit sauce onto each individual serving plate and place 1 – 2 neat portions or slices onto the plate.
  21. Decorate with a sprig of mint and a tiny flower and pass a bowl of whipped cream for those who want to go all the way!

8 generous servings.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from Art Of Cooking p. 793.



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Gluten-free Biscotti With Brazil Nuts

These light and delicious biscuits are trendy and nutritious. Enjoy as is or dip in coffee or sweet dessert wine such as sherry as the Italians do!

1 cup (250 ml) Brazil nuts (see Note)
½ cup (125 ml) egg white (4 -5)
¾ cup /150 g (175 ml) sugar
½ tsp (2.5 ml) vanilla essence
¾ cup (185 ml) gluten free flour
pinch salt

  1. Line the base and sides of a loaf tin (280 x 110 x 65 mm or 225 x 125 x 80 mm) with baking paper and grease well with butter or cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the balloon whisk and beat until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add the sugar gradually and whip until thick and glossy as for meringue. Beat in the vanilla essence.
  4. Add the flour, salt and nuts and fold in very lightly with the whisk or a large spoon only until combined with the egg white. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake about 25 minutes or until firm and golden. Cool, loosen, turn out and cool completely.
  5. Preheat the oven to 100°C.
  6. Slice the loaf with an electric or sharp serrated knife into 5 mm slices and arrange flat on a baking tray.
  7. Return to the oven and dry out for about 20 minutes, turning over once until crisp and dry.
  8. Place a spoon in the door if necessary to keep it slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. Cool and store in airtight containers.

About 30 biscotti, depending on size.

Note  The nuts used may be one kind only or a mixture of 2 to 3 kinds. This may include blanched almonds, shelled toasted pistachio nuts (salt rubbed off if salted) toasted and shelled hazelnuts or unsalted cashew nuts or pecan nuts.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.


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Cranberry & Nut Rye Bread

By adding dried fruit and nuts to this bread it is taken to a whole new level.  Also try the Light Rye Bread which can be served with soup or as part of a cold buffet including salad, fish, cold meat and especially good tasty cheese.

Note    If a bread with a dark colour is preferred use treacle or molasses.   For a light bread use honey only or ½ honey and ½ molasses.

2 cups (500 ml) rye flour
1 cup (250 ml) cake flour
2 x 8 g sachets instant yeast (less if time is unlimited)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) brown sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
1 – 2 tsp (5 – 10 ml) caraway seed (optional)
1 Tbsp (30 ml) butter or oil
2 Tbsp (30 ml) honey or treacle or molasses (see Note above)
1½ cups (375 ml) lukewarm water
1 cup (250 ml) extra cake flour
1 cup (250 ml) mixed nuts
½ cup (125 ml) cranberries

a little plain yoghurt or buttermilk
rye flour

  1. Combine the dry ingredients and add the butter or oil and honey and/or treacle or molasses and water and mix well.
  2. Add sufficient of the remaining flour to form a dough that is still slightly sticky and soft but just firm enough for kneading.
  3. To knead by hand, turn out the dough on a floured surface, knead for 5 minutes, adding extra flour as necessary and return to the bowl. Or, to knead in an electric mixer, knead 3 to 4 minutes with the dough hook or until no longer sticky, adding a little extra flour as necessary.
  4. Cover and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Add the nuts and cranberries and knead it into the dough. Cover and allow to stand for another 15 minutes.
  5. Line a baking tray with Wizbake baking sheet.
  6. Divide the dough into two portions and shape into oval-shaped loaves.
  7. Place the loaves onto the baking tray and brush with yoghurt or buttermilk and sprinkle with rye flour. Slash the top of the loaves diagonally with a sharp knife or snip with a pair of scissors.
  8. Allow the loaves to rise until doubled and pre-heat the oven to 200°C while the loaves are rising.
  9. Place the well-risen loaves into the oven, lower the temperature to 190°C and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180°C and bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the top crust.
  10. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 2 medium loaves or about 16 to 20 slices.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from her Art of Cooking Recipe Book page 813.

Cranberry and nut rye bread

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Brazil Nut and Cherry Rusks

A baked sponge base is cut into fingers and dried out (biscotti-style) to make delicious but no too sweet spongy biscuits to nibble on or dip into tea or coffee.

4 large eggs
1 cup (250 ml) white sugar
½ tsp (2.5 ml) salt
2 cups (500 ml) cake flour
1 Tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
1/3 cup (75 ml) brazil nuts cut up into slivers
1/3 cup (75 ml ) red glace cherries, finely chopped
½ cup (125 ml) sunflower or light olive oil
1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla essence

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a large baking tray (± 38 x 28 cm) with baking paper and grease well with butter or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Beat together the eggs, sugar and salt very well for at least 5 minutes until thick and pale yellow.
  3. Sprinkle the flour, baking powder, nuts and cherries over the mixture and beat gently just until combined.
  4. Add the oil, water and flavouring and mix lightly.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, spread evenly and bake about 20 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.
  6. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and cut into± 3 cm wide strips lengthwise and then crosswise into fingers ± 7 cm in length.
  7. Arrange the biscotti slightly apart onto baking trays and dry out for about  3 hours at 100 ºC until crisp and dry.
  8. Place a spoon in the oven door to keep it ajar and allow moisture to escape while drying.
  9. Cool and store airtight.

Makes approx 60 sponge fingers (± 3 cm x 8 cm)

Recipe by Carolie de Koster.

Brazil nut and cherry biscotti fingers


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Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Rusks

The simplicity of the method for these outstanding rusks is most appealing.

1 kg self-raising flour
100 g / 125 ml sugar
5 ml salt
100 g/175 ml chocolate chips OR 1 x 100 g slab of chocolate, coarsely chopped
100 g macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs
750 ml cream
± 250 ml additional buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C and grease 2 loaf tins (26 cm) generously with butter. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
  2. Beat together the eggs and 750 ml cream and reserve 30 ml to glaze the rusks.
  3. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and mix lightly while adding enough of the remaining cream or buttermilk to form a dough which is just comfortable to handle –  neither firm nor soft.
  4. Turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead lightly for a few minutes until smooth.  Pinch off golf-ball size portions, roll into slightly elongated shapes and pack in neat rows, just touching comfortably into the greased tins.
  5. Mix the reserved egg and cream with a little extra water and brush over the tops of the rusks to glaze.
  6. Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown and firm and a metal skewer comes out clean if inserted into the centre of the baked loaf.
  7. Cool in the tins for a few minutes and turn out carefully onto a cooling rack.  Turn over and cool at least 2 hours before separating into rusks with the tongs of a fork – for a natural appearance.
  8. Pack loosely on baking trays and dry out in the oven at 60 °C for 5to 6 hours with a spoon positioned in such a way that the door remains slightly open while drying to allow moisture to escape. When quite dry, cool and pack in airtight containers to store for up to a month.

Makes about 100 average rusks.

Note Turn down the heat slightly if the top browns too much or too soon and cover loosely with aluminium foil.


Plain rusks
Omit nuts and chocolate, use 200 g / 250 ml sugar and add 10 ml aniseed if preferred.

Seeded Rusks
Omit chocolate and nuts, use 200g / 250 ml sugar and add ± 250 ml combined  seeds (sesame, poppy, sunflower and linseeds) to the dry ingredients.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.

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Bran Rusks With Nuts, Seeds & Fruit

Start the day with these crunchy, tasty, health rusks. Dunk into tea or coffee or use to nibble on at any time of the day.

1½ – 2 cups (375 – 500ml) sugar
4 ½ cups (1,125ml) cake flour
4 ½ cups (1,125ml) digestive bran
2 tbsp (30ml) baking powder
1 ½ tsp (7,5ml) salt
¼ – ½ cup (60 – 125ml) seedless raisins (optional
1 cup (250ml) sunflower seeds
½ cup (125ml) pumpkin seeds
½ cup (125ml) linseeds and / or sesame seeds
½ cup (125ml) coarsely chopped nuts such as brazils, pecans or walnuts
400 g butter or margarine, melted but not hot
2 tsp (10ml) bicarbonate of soda
¼ cup (60ml) vinegar
1½ cups (625ml) milk

  1. Grease a large roasting dish (40 x 30 cm) with butter or margarine and pre-heat the oven to 180 ºC.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
  3. Mix the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and add to the dry ingredients together with the melted butter. Mix well and turn out into the oven baking tray.
  4. Bake the rusks about 45 minutes or until firm to the touch and nicely browned but not too dark or dry.
  5. Allow to cool a few minutes before cutting into fingers.
  6. Pack slightly apart onto a baking tray and place into the oven with the door slightly open to allow moisture to escape. Keep the door open with a spoon if necessary.
  7. Dry out the rusks in a very cool oven set between 70 ºC for 5 to 6 hours or until completely dry.
  8. Store in airtight containers.

Makes about 50 rusks depending on size.

The rusks in the photo below are ready to be cut into fingers.  It was made with a halved recipe in a large bread pan (40 cm x 12 cm).

Nutty Bran & Seed Rusks

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Apple, Date & Nut Slice With Brandy Syrup

Apple is added to the traditional and cherished South African “Tipsy Tart” also known as Cape Brandy Tart and turned into the popular “slice” that features strongly in New Zealand and Australia!  Enjoy with whipped cream or ice-cream or custard.

1½ cups (375 ml/250 g) stoned dates, coarsely chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
¾ cup (175 ml) boiling water
½ cup (125 ml) sugar
½ cup (125 ml/125 g) butter
1½ cups (375 ml) cake flour
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder (see Note above if baking mix is used)
¼ tsp (1 ml) salt
1 tsp[ (5 ml) ground cinnamon
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) mixed spice
2 large eggs
1 cup (250 ml) chopped nuts such as pecans, walnuts, macadamias, brazils
2 apples, unpeeled and diced (e.g. Granny Smith or Braeburn)

Brandy syrup
½ cup (125 ml) water
½ cup (125 ml) sugar
1 Tbsp (15 ml) butter
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla essence
¼ tsp (1 ml) ground cinnamon
½ cup (125 ml) brandy

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.  Grease a rectangular pie dish (± 28 x 20 x 3 cm) well with butter.
  2. Cut up the dates finely and place in a mixing bowl with the baking soda, boiling water, sugar and butter. Mix thoroughly to combine, mashing the dates a little to break up and cool for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the flour, gluten free baking powder, salt and spice, add the date mixture, eggs, nuts and apple and stir well to combine.
  4. Turn the batter into the dish, spread evenly and bake 25 minutes or until firm and thoroughly cooked. Lower the temperature towards the end of baking time if the top browns too soon to prevent it from browning too much.
  5. Meanwhile, place all the ingredients for the syrup, except the brandy, in a small saucepan and stir over moderate heat until the sugar has melted.
  6. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until the syrup has reduced by about ¼ . Stir in the brandy.
  7. Remove the baked tart from the oven, cool a few minutes and spoon over the syrup.
  8. Leave to stand until the syrup has been absorbed. Cut into neat slices and serve slightly warm as explained above or cool and reheat when required.

12 servings.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from the Art Of Cookin Recipe Book p. 507.

This recipe can be made with gluten free flour or gluten free baking mix.  Note If  gluten free baking mix is used reduce the baking powder to 5 ml (1 tsp).

Cape Brandy Tart p. 507

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Almond Ring Cake

A most enjoyable plain ring or loaf cake with a stunning texture and flavour and which lasts well for several days.

½ cup (125 ml/125 g) butter
2/3 cups (175 ml) sugar
4 large eggs, separated
½ – 1 tsp (2.5 – 5 ml) almond essence
1 cup (250 ml) ground almonds
½ cup (125 ml) cake or rice flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
pinch salt

To serve
icing sugar to dust

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC and grease a 20 cm ring mould with butter.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar very well.
  3. Add the egg yolks one at a time while beating until very light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the almond essence.
  5. Combine almonds, flour, baking powder and salt and beat into the egg mixture.
  6. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in gently until evenly blended.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared mould, smooth the top and bake about 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.
  8. Cool in the mould for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
  9. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

8 – 10 servings.

Variation:  Fruity Almond Cake

  1. In a container which can be sealed, combine 125 ml dried fruit such as golden sultanas, raisins, currants, glacé cherries and/or pineapple, OR use mixed cake fruit.
  2. Add 50 ml brandy, seal the container and shake well. Turn over and shake from time to time. Allow the fruit to soak and soften for at least an hour or overnight.
  3. Increase the baking powder to 5 ml, use only a few drops or omit the almond essence if preferred and add the soaked fruit with the dry ingredients to the egg yolk mixture.
  4. Complete as explained above and decorate with tiny chips of glace cherries together with the flaked almonds if preferred.

Note To serve as dessert add strawberries, whipped cream and toasted brown skinned almonds!

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.