Category Archives: Recipes

Magical Moroccan Mince with a pistachio and date gravel

Magical Moroccan Mince with a pistachio and date gravel



REMEMBER if there is grey liquid in you pan at any stage it is simply because the pan is too cold, you are stirring too much, and the mince is stewing.  Scrape all the mince to the ONE side of the pan, leaving half the pan NAKED, put up the heat and back away from the pan.  Eventually the grey liquid will cook back into the mince and VOILA, you have learnt to cook mince in the sexiest way! It really does mean FREE flavour.

You will now live happily ever after. Here’s how you do it.


(for 4)

2 squirts of a canola or rice bran cooking spray into a large non-stick pan

800g lean beef mince ( fluff this up with your hands so it’s all nice and loose and fluffy and not in one big block)

1 large onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic crushed (optional)

1 tablespoon ras el hanout  (you can make your own using my recipe OR just use 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder and 1/2 coriander powder)

1 teaspoon turmeric (MOST important ingredient other than good quality mince, this will add fabulous colour to your otherwise drab mince!)

1/2 cup finely diced fennel or you could use grated carrot, zucchini or you choose!

1 tin chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 cup chopped tomatoes or use one tin chopped tomato

2 tablespoons tomato paste or passata

1 vegetable or beef stock cube crumbled to a powder

salt and pepper to season.

about 1 teaspoon of lemon zest

Pistachio and date gravel

1-2 tablespoons pistachios bashed or chopped to a nice coarse gravel

2 tablespoons finely chopped dates

I added some dried rose petals but if you don’t have that grate in some lemon zest (1/2 teaspoon) and 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley or coriander for colour



First thing you should do is heat and grease a large pan until just about smoking hot. The mince MUST sizzle when it hits the pan…

Now add the mince that you have broken up in the packaging or a bowl so it is loose and fluffy already.  Put the mince into the pan…IT SHOULD SIZZLE nice and loud and sexy.

DO NOT STIR, I know you are worried about this burning and you are also worried about lumps, but let the mince brown and seal on the first side you put down FIRST and let the pan heat up again and THEN you can stir ever so slightly just to get some more mince onto the base of the pan.  My favourite mince ‘fluffer’ is one of those cheap plastic coated whisks you get at the supermarket that only have about 4 loops.  If you don’t have one of those use a strong plastic spoon or egg flip to break down the mince.

Once the mince is brown and fragrant and sexy ALL BY ITSELF, then and only then do you add the finely chopped onion and garlic.  There should be enough oil out of the mince that you have rendered off during your amazing sizzle cooking of the mince at a nice high heat. You can stir as much as you like now by the way, that mince is SEALED off!

Now add the spices, stock powder and seasoning and stir through.  Amazing colour isn’t it!

Finally add the chopped tomatoes and passata and the chick peas and you’re practically done.  Turn down the heat and let that all cook through and then add the lemon zest and it’s ready to serve.


This way of cooking will not only save you time, BUT it will add valuable flavour and vibrant personality to your otherwise boring mince.


I love to get creative with my mince and change the spices thus changing the flavour.

I served mine with a yogurt swirl and the pistachio and date gravel with just a twist of fresh peppery rocket leaves.

Want to give your mince a makeover?

Now that you can cook mince perfectly, why not change the theme and the style of your mince. I like to take my mince around the world!

Try (instead of the ras el hanout but ALWAYS leave the turmeric in)


1 tablespoon smoke paprika for a Spanish Style mince.  You could also add some finely diced or chopped chorizo to this to really make it Spanish.


1 tablespoon curry powder to make an Indian style mince. Add chopped chilli and fresh coriander and then serve!

Chinese 5 spice is another favourite!




Father’s Day Pancake Ideas!

Home made buttermilk maple pancake

250ml buttermilk or milk
1 egg
50ml maple syrup
250g gluten free/plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
10g butter, melted

Place all ingredients into a large bowl and then whisk together until smooth and lump free.

Use small ladle to measure out the pancakes into a hot and greased frying pan.

Serve stacked up in the centre of a bowl with one of the following toppings!

Is your dad a ‘sweet’ or a ‘savoury’ kind of guy?


Maple cream

Mix 50ml maple syrup with 50ml cream and stir. Serve poured over the pancake stack and then serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a rosette of whipped cream.

Sprinkle with 10g pistachio and cinnamon gravel and 5 raspberries

Peanut butter and banana with salted caramel

Mix 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to a paste with about 3 tablespoons heated cream so that it thins down.

Now slice up one banana and top the pancake stack with the peanut butter sauce, banana and finally the salted caramel.

For the salted caramel put 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 2 tablespoons butter into a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves.  Then heat until it’s bubbling and fragrant and then sprinkle with a pinch or more of flake salt.


Mushrooms, parmesan and chorizo

Haloumi, bacon and grilled tomato

Hard Core Carnivore Pancake:  serve crispy bacon, pancetta and prosciutto, sausages and chorizo on your pancake with a tomato chutney to give dad the ultimate Hard Core Carnivore pancake!


Father’s Day Eggs for Breakfast Ideas!

Eggs are always a popular choice for breakfast. I have two sauces here for you to try. I also have an easy Brioche recipe coming soon.!
Father’s Day is soon approaching!

I have some wonderful inspiration for making dad feel extra special!  They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach so let’s take the easy way to making you his favourite child this Father’s Day!


  • 3 tablesppons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • pinch freshly ground white pepper
  • 225g very cold butter diced



  • 175g butter
  • 30ml water
  • 3 egg yolks ONLY
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 15 ml lemon juice





Boil the wine vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper in a pan until there is only about 1 tablespoon of liquid left. Now whisk in the butter (reduce the heat of the stovetop) dice by dice, so that they soften and thicken the sauce rather than MELT, so remove the pan from the heat and maintain the correct temperature along the way. Keep this sauce warm, don’t let it melt as it will become oily! Keep it warm not hot!

Serve with poached fish, steak, vegetables and more!

Once you have mastered this let’s try a Sauce Hollandaise!



This sauce is best served IMMEDIATELY after it is made, you can keep the sauce warm for a short time over a bain marie if necessary.

Melt the butter over a low heat and clarify it by removing the foaming milk solids and only using the ‘yellow oil’ that remains. Let the clarified butter cool down to ‘warm’.

In a small saucepan whisk the water and the eggs yolks, seasoned with the salt and pepper until light and fluffy. Set the pan over a low heat or over the bain marie and whisk until the egg is at ribbon state, or leaves a trail at the base
of the pan. Now turn off the heat and slowly whisk in the butter very slowly making sure it does not curdle. When all the butter has been added stir in the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning.


Saffron, lime and chili infused butternut broth with creamy chive and feta dollop

Nothing is more satisfying than a healthy and nutritious bowl of fabulous pumpkin or butternut soup to warm the cockles of your heart.   Here’s a really easy and very sexy soup for you to try.  It’s all about adding a delicious dollop of creamy chive and feta for some texture, flavour and culinary bling.

Now not everyone can get their hands on saffron so do not fear, I have accounted for that in the recipe.  Read on fabulous foodie.


Saffron, lime and chili infused butternut broth with creamy chive and feta dollop                                 


Serves 6-8


2 teaspoons butter or olive oil

2 medium onions chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 good pinches saffron or use 1 teaspoon turmeric powder instead

600g -1 kg butternut, sweet potato or pumpkin cubed into 1 or 2 cm cubes (perfect way to use leftovers)

2 litres good chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and pepper to season

Zest of one lime

1 small chili crushed (or use more if you like!)

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese or use mature cheddar (optional)

80 – 100 ml fresh cream

100 g Danish style feta mixed to a paste with 1 bunch chives or spring onions, finely chopped. Alternatively use Greek feta blended with a few tablespoons of cream until smooth!




Fry the onions in the oil or butter with the garlic until just soft. Now add the saffron or turmeric and finely cubed butternut as well as the stock. Allow to come to the boil and cook for about 15 -25 minutes until the butternut is soft,  Now add the zest and the chilli as well as the fresh cream. Remove from heat and blend with a stick blender and blend until ridiculously velvety and smooth.  If this is too thick for your liking add some more stock and thin it down.

When you serve simply garnish with dollops of the feta and chives, and even some fried shallots for crunch!

Purple Carrot Cake for Mum

I’m so excited!   In exactly one week my mum will fly in from South Africa to spend 9 glorious weeks with me and her beloved grandson’s.

It has been two years since we last saw each other and although we Skype and call and Whatsapp all the time, nothing can beat a cup of tea and a chat over a plate of something decadent, to really appreciate mother and daughter time TOGETHER!

My mother has always been a very keen and accomplished baker.  We used to live miles and miles away from the closest tiny towns so our ‘entertainment’ was not going to a malls and movies or restaurants as there simply weren’t any around.  No, our entertainment was ripping out recipes out of magazines and sticking them into our recipe folder.  Or pouring over recipe books booked out from the library (no google search in those days lol)

We also grew most of our own vegetables and produce so there were always fresh eggs, fruit and ridiculously good milk from our cows.  We used to have a stainless steel milk separator which would spin off the rich and delectably thick cream either to be used on scones, churned into butter, or baked into cakes and cookies.

Oh the sweet memories!

Carrot cake was always a firm favourite, and although I’ve adapted this to be a little more glamorous essentially it’s just a jolly fabulous carrot cake!


Beat together

185g softened butter with 3/4 cup brown sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy, and until the sugar is dissolved.

Add 5 ml Vanilla Extract or Paste and 2 eggs and mix together.

Grate 2 medium sized purple carrots, you can use normal carrots here if you wish, into the mixture.  Sieve in 1 cup self raising flour and 1/2 a teaspoon EACH of cinnamon, mixed spice or ras el hanout, and also 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and 1 cup of pecans and/or pistachios. Mix together until combined and then pour into a greased cake or loaf tin.  Bake in a pre-heated oven of 170c for about 20-25 minutes until the cake is cooked, test with a skewer like they do in the movies lol!

Allow to cool.  While the cake is cooling you can whip up this delicious but ridiculously easy icing!

Take 1 small tub ricotta or cream cheese and into it add 2 tablespoons icing mixture, about 2 ml vanilla paste and the juice and zest of one lime.  Mix well and then dollop this onto the cake!  I cut the cake into portions first and arranged them on a platter before decorating each square with a dollop of the sweetened ricotta and a gorgeous little organic rose bud (available from my online store or at your local Indian spice shop)

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Vanilla Zulus Telephone Pudding

Living away from my home country, I have found myself not only longing for my mother but for my precious aunts and cousins spread over the globe.  We haven’t seen each other in years as many of us fled South Africa and are now scattered all over the world, but from time to time we will drop each other a line and we always know we are missed and loved.

I am lucky to have a wonderful set of aunts that have not only contributed to my upbringing, but continue to be a valuable support, strength and bring happiness to me.

We all bear a slight resemblance to each other as I suppose most families do, but what really connects us is food.  A ridiculously sweet tooth unites us.  We have always celebrated, swopped, discussed and enjoyed sweet treats at family gatherings, get togethers and when we are feeling homesick and missing each other.

We also have a secret to reveal.  A very very old and dear family recipe that has been passed for generations from one sweet tooth to the next.  We all have a copy of this recipe in our well-worn recipe folders and will often get a desperate call from a family member or a guest that has attended, BEGGING for the recipe.

Thus this decadent and delicious and world famous recipe is known as TELEPHONE PUDDING.  Yes, telephone pudding.  Because, as I said,  you are guaranteed to get a phone call from a guest or a relative begging for the recipe over the phone once they have tried it.  It remains, to date, my favourite all time dessert.

Not only does it conjure up precious memories of family get togethers and of my childhood, but it is now my quick-fix for any homesickness that I feel!

Perhaps we should re-name it EMAIL PUDDING or FACEBOOK PUDDING but either way I have decided to share it with you and spread the love.


With much love from my family to yours xxx

Telephone Pudding

This dessert is also a must for winter! As discussed, this is  called telephone pudding in my family because the recipe is usually given over the phone! It is essentially a self-saucing ginger sponge…heavenly xxx

375 ml plain flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda dissolved in a 250 ml cup of milk

250 ml white sugar

1 cup almonds or pecans blended to resemble breadcrumbs (optional, feel free to omit)

125 ml soft or just melted butter

1 tsp powdered ginger

1 egg

2 Tablespoons apricot jam

Pinch of salt


250 ml cup of white sugar dissolved in 500 ml cups of boiling water


Beat the sugar and the butter together until light and fluffy and then add the egg. Mix until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix through. Spoon into a greased baking dish. Now make the sauce by mixing the sugar and the boiling water together. Use the back of a spoon to pour over the batter….DO NOT MIX.

Bake in a pre-heated oven of 160 c for 25-30 minutes depending on how deep your baking dish is. Check for doneness and then serve hot and sticky with a big dollop of whipped cream.

Family friendly comfort food!

MOTHER’S DAY Pumpkin, Parsley & Parmesan Scones

These are not just ANY old scones.  Behold…these are my old faithful’s.  They have never let me down, never not worked, and they are magnificently quick.

Best part is  you don’t need a scale, you don’t need to fuss…simply mix and bake!

I have ‘blinged’ up the humble scone, I think it was well overdue for a makeover don’t you? To add colour, personality and flavor I have added grated pumpkin or you could use carrot, zucchini or butternut instead! That teamed with the herbs and the sexy ricotta spread will give your next scone-serving session guaranteed ‘ooh’s and aah’s’ …

Pumpkin, parsley and Parmesan Scones
  • 2 cups plain flour sifted = 500 ml
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder sifted
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (or cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives or parsley
  • 2 eggs beaten – place in a 250 ml cup measure, top to the 250 ml mark with milk/ricotta/sour cream/sour milk or even plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin, butternut, zucchini or carrot finely grated – place in a bowl with 125g grated or diced butter and ‘melt’ in the microwave for about a minute, this will melt the butter and soften the vegetable!


  1. Mix all the ingredients together until a nice thick batter is formed, try not to over mix as these will become tough if over handled! Less is more in this case.
  2. You can either drop tablespoons of the mixture into greased and floured muffin tins, paper cups, terracotta pots or just dollop onto a baking sheet OR with floured hands shape the dough into a square with your hands and simply cut into 9 squares.
  3. Place squares on baking tray.
  4. Bake at 180 c for about 15 minutes until golden brown and cooked.
  5. Check for doneness. Serve with this delicious spread or just some lovely butter.
Ricotta parsley and pepper dollop
  • 125g light ricotta
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley
  • Lots of black freshly ground pepper/pink pepper
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese grated

Happy Cooking, and Happy Mother’s Day to all of us fabulous mum’s out there!

Father’s Day Gift Vouchers on SALE! *$99*

You know that it’s really cool and fashionable to be amazing in the kitchen these days!

Is your dad a budding hot chef…or is he hopeless and needs some help?

Either way we’ve got you covered with a Vanilla Zulu 3 hour cooking session including a fabulous 3 course meal!

Book now on any of our classes by using the promo code FATHER or buy a voucher and let him choose!  Or buy him a hamper!  Head to our store!

Best thing is you can buy  one for yourself at that price too!

Father's Day Offer

White Chocolate Cup Cakes


Festively white cupcakes...

So simple yet soooo Preeeeetty.

Defintely can be made in advance, leaving you more time to spend precious moments with your loved ones. I found these while researching ‘white christmas desserts’ and they definitely took my fancy.

Here is the recipe for you to try, no harm in baking a batch this weekend just to practice. You will need to buy a piping bag and nozzle, easy obtainable from places like Robins kitchen, so don’t think it can’t be done.  And once you have the nozzles, and the confidence, you’ll be piping your way to glamourous and breathtaking creations for years to come. To get the chocolate shavings, take a block of white chocolate and use your vegetable peeler or even a palette knife to make the curls.

White cup cakes, to make 12

1/2 cup butter, grate to soften or use at room temperature

2/3 cup white or castor sugar

3 large eggs, fresh is best

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract

1 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

50ml milk or cream or plain yogurt

50g white chocolate chips


Place the softened butter and sugar in a mixer with the batter paddle and beat until pale and fluffy.  Now add the eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, salt and milk/cream/yogurt and chocolate chips and mix together for about a minute until smooth and well mixed.  Stick your finger in the bowl and taste, this is the best part of baking cup cakes, and of course is not compulsary!  Spoon into greased cup cake liners and divide evenly, bake for about 15-20 minutes in a moderate oven of 180c or until the toothpick or skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool and then top with a glorious piping of this decadent icing.

Christmassy snowy icing

1/2 cup butter, grate to soften or use at room temperature

2 cups icing sugar sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste

2 tablespoons cream or plain yogurt


Beat the butter until pale and fluffy in your mixer.  The paler you let the butter go, the whiter your icing will be.  Once pale and fluffy add the icing mix and vanilla and cream/yogurt and then start the mixer up very slowly.  Starting at top speed will only result in frustration as plumes of icing sugar rain down on your counter!  Slowly slowly incorporate the butter and the icing mix, beat until silky smooth and then place into the piping bag.

*NOTE* The neatest and least frustrating way to get icing into a piping bag is to fold the top of the bag over your hand while you hold it, peel it over your hand, then use a spatula or spoon to place the icing in the bag.  By folding the bag over your hand you will keep the top of it clear and clean and then you can fold it over and work the icing out as you pipe.  You can do this two or three days in advance if you need to?

Boozy Vanilla Panna Cotta


Panna cotta really is the simplest thing to make, just have the confidence to try! 


Try my tested recipe, it makes 5-6 servings, and once you’ve mastered the basics imagine how many different flavours you could make!

You will need:

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups cream

1/2 cup white or raw sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste (you can get this from most supermarkets at about $9 but you only need a spoon for this)

4 sheets titanium strength gelatine soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, drain OR you can use 2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatine dissolved in hot water DON’T use both!


Simply place the cream and milk in a saucepan and heat until just about to boil. Make sure you stir so the bottom doesn’t burn, the only flavour we want is beautiful creamy milk and cream, if you do burn it start again!  Add the sugar and vanilla and stir until dissolved, and then add the softened and prepared gelatine and mix until dissolved.

Pour into glasses, ramekins, dariole moulds or similar, cover with cling film and then place in fridge. Depending on how large you have made them, they could take up to 6 hours to set so these are perfect made in advance!