Glorious food and recipes for Africa

BILLY SUTER reviews five new South African recipe books (pictured above) that are sure to make perfect gifts if you have left Christmas shopping to the last minute this festive season.

THERE have been so many quotes ringing the praises of chocolate, and one of my favourites is that the high-calorie good stuff is nature’s way of making up for Mondays. I also like the quote announcing that chocolate says “I’m sorry” so much better than words.

Whatever way you look at it, choc is heaven-sent – God gave the angels wings, and gave humans chocolate, someone once said.

The point of all this is that I have found a perfect Christmas stocking filler if you are a chocaholic trying to treat yourself or are seeking a gift for another. It is Chocolate, a new 208-page, softback recipe book by Katelyn Williams, published by Human & Rousseau and selling for about R380.

The divinely decadent Triple Chocolate Mozart Cake… from Chocolate.

“I think the world would be a happier place if everyone baked a chocolate cake once in a while. It is just so magical!,” writes Williams, a  food stylist, food photographer and recipe developer with more than 10 years experience working in television and magazines.

Williams has seen her baking and dessert blog,, named as Best Food Blog in South Africa for the past three years. She studied to be a pro pastry chef at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, worked in various restaurants and hotels before joining SABC3’s Top Billing, and eventually became Food Editor.

Her passion for chocolate, and the fact that this Cape Town-based ‘foodie’ happens to have a chocolate-maker for a husband, made her new book inevitable.

It is a book that is…er… choc-a-block with lip-smackingly delicious photos – so good, in fact, that you almost want to lick the pages – and recipes cover everything from puds and cakes to chocolate that you can drink, dip or spread.

You will find here crunchy treats from rooibos biscotti with almonds and white chocolate chunks, to macadamia-nut honeycomb with chocolate salt. And how about fruity thrills such as white choc and naartjie malva pudding, or dark chocolate orange brulee custard slices? I’m salivating just writing about it.

Another highlight is the hazelnut-heavy Triple Chocolate Mozart Cake, which Williams says would be her choice if she could have only one slice of cake before she dies. Check out the picture here and you can understand completely.

The book also has effortless favourites such as no-bake brownies, “end of the month truffles” and more, as well as a section of SOS tips to rescue your chocolate cravings: minimum ingredients, maximum results, in other words.

Also new on book shelves is another large softback, Boerekos with a Twist, by Annelien Pienaar, published by Human & Rousseau. It sells for about R335 and has 232 pages.

Quick mince rolls with oil pastry… from Boerekos with a Twist.

Pienaar, who has a food blog and a penchant for fresh ingredients, is a regular on TV and radio, owns a pecan nut farm near outside Hartebeespoort with her husband, Hanru, and runs a cooking school there as well.

Her new book celebrates down-to-earth food and entices the reader to appreciate and understand ingredients and how they can be transformed. Her philosophy is to get people to know the basics first; and to understand the basics one simply has to be open to learn, to experience and ultimately to indulge.

Pienaar presents a collection of recipes that draw from the author’s past and present – recipes that are simply and proudly South African, with a twist. Everything is here – from ideas for soups and sauces to vegetables, meat and fish, baking, scones and pies, desserts, bottling and preserving, and even a number of menu suggestions.

Quick mince rolls with oil pastry, Mosbeskuit, bran rusks, ginger biscuits, pecan shortbread rolls, Rocky Road fudge, potato salad with sweet mustard, white wine bobotie, schnitzel, apricot and mustard chutney … all are just some of the many varied recipes in this photo-packed book.

And now for something different. It’s another new Human & Rousseau publication, Anatoli: Authentic Turkish Cuisine, a recipe book by Tayfun Aras. Also a large softback, it sells for about R375 and has 224 pages with colour photos.

Born in the Turkish capital, Ankara, and the eldest of three sons who often helped their mother in the kitchen, Aras attained a degree in architecture, moved to Marmaris, met his wife Louise then moved to Cape Town and became the owner of Anatoli, the popular Turkish restaurant there, in 2003.

His book sets out to bring his menu favourites to life in your own home – from easy mezzes, pide (bread), kebaps and kofte (meatballs) to baklava and lokma (deep-fried koeksisters). There are also recipes for dessert and Turkish coffees, as well as recipes Aras cooks for guests at his home.

Expect recipes for fried mussels, shrimp casserole, date lozenges, Albanian-style liver, stuffed apricots, spicy lentil balls, chicken baked with feta, orange compote and many other tasty treats.

Rooibos and ginger panna cotta… from As Good As Eating Out.

Also worth checking out, although it has been around a few months, is the 192-page, large softcover, As Good As Eating Out, featuring the best mouth-water recipes from Your Family magazine. Also published by Human & Rousseau, the book offers recipes for home cooking that looks and can be as good as restaurant food but comes at a fraction of the cost.

Whether you are in the mood for burgers, boeries or pizza, or want to try sirloin with chimchurri, Chinese-style spare ribs or Thai red fish curry with cauli-rice, chances are you’ll have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen, the book says.

The recipes are generally uncomplicated and quick, each having been tested by Your Family.

Recipes include grilled steak with cauliflower mash;  beef espetadas; pulled pork sliders; Durban beef and bean Bunny Chow; red wine osso buco with gremolata; slow-cooked lamb pasta;  mushroom tortellini; even banting burgers.

Sweet treats include choc fondant, malva pudding, sticky toffee pudding, poached pears with salted caramel sauce, rooibos and ginger panna cotta, hot chocolate lava pots, and dark-chocolate orange mousse, among others.

Last, but certainly not least, consider buying Brunch Across 11 Countries: Recipes of a Private Chef by South African chef Alix Verrips, also a Human & Rosseau publication.

When not travelling the world cooking for high-profile clients, Alix spends time in Knysna entertaining friends and raising cash for children’s charities. She is well travelled, having been head chef on four of the top 20 largest yachts in the world, and has cooked for royalty, celebrities and leading industrialists for the past 15 years.

Breakfast bobotie cups from the South African bush brunch in Brunch Across 11 Countries: Recipes of a Private Chef.

Her interesting recipe book takes the reader on a voyage of discovery through the various cuisines and beautiful locations where she has cooked for her many clients. So prepare, for example, for a brunch designed for an American 4th of July celebration in the Hamptons, or in the South African bush, or captivating Capri.

We even get brunch suggestions influenced by celebrating New Year in La Laz, Mexico; marking luxury and excess in the Emirates; the splendor of Spain; the Monaco Grand Prix and Chinese New Year in Sydney Harbour.

There are also brunches influenced by the Greek Isles and the Bahamas. Yummy stuff!

Assorted desserts from Anatoli: Authentic Turkish Cuisine.

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