Winter warmers

2009-07-25 00:00

RUMOUR has it farmers break the ice layer in water troughs during the winter months in Mooi River to allow their animals morning drinking. This is totally believable considering the sub zero temperatures we wake up to at this time of year.

I’m a summer baby, who would prefer to hibernate when temperatures plummet. I survive winter with comfort foods such as feel-good, rich, hot chocolate; thick vegetable soups; meaty stews; spicy curries and traditional, hot, sticky South African desserts.

A winter vegetable that often misses the limelight on today’s menus is the unassuming but extremely versatile and tasty cauliflower. Nothing beats a thick creamy and velvety cauliflower soup. It’s perfect on its own but, at the restaurant, I often top it with truffle-oil-infused crème and caviar. A less extravagant, but equally as impressive option is a rosette of smoked salmon.

My version of oxtail changes continuously in the quest to make it as good as my mother’s. Oxtail is difficult to present in a fine-dining setting so I often remove the bones and fill a chicken breast with the meat mixture for poaching. Be it elaborate or an effortless pot of oxtail, both are appreciated for their unpretentious depth of flavour.

South African winter desserts top the popularity pole. Who can resist a helping of a hot, syrupy, moist cake? This versatile, sticky date pudding is delicious as a cake, or a dessert when topped with caramel sauce. Serving it with orange marmalade ice cream is a real treat.

A winter’s night would not be complete without a log-fire and a rich, creamy mug of homemade hot chocolate. Think cream, Bar-Ones and marshmallows … yummy!

Use these recipes to take the chill out of your winter.

Send comments and food-related questions to I look forward to hearing from you. Jackie Cameron is the head chef at Hartford House. Contact: 033 263 2713


Yields: 4 portions


50 g butter

30ml sunflower oil

1 kg oxtail

1/3 cup flour

Salt and pepper

1 medium or 150g onion

3 medium or 200g carrot

1 large or 120 g leeks

1 piece or 60 g celery

3 large garlic cloves

2 sprigs rosemary

2 or 220 g tomatoes

400 ml red wine

100 ml red wine

2 litres of beef stock (500 ml added at a time)


1) Heat a heavy based pot up. Add butter and oil. Dust the oxtail piece with the flour, salt and pepper mixture. Pan sear these pieces and remove from the pot and set aside

2) Sauté the onions in this same pot. When caramelised add carrots, leeks, celery, garlic and rosemary continue cooking

3) Finish with tomatoes, red wine, and the first beef stock amount of 500ml together with the oxtail pieces. Cook on the lowest heat to allow for a light simmering. Add more stock when this amount has reduced, to the point of not covering the meat, and continue simmering for 8 hours, stirring occasionally. (Chef’s note: you may need to use more stock if unnecessary boiling takes place.)

4) Finish with the 100ml amount of red wine and serve

Hot chocolate drink

Yields: 2 mugs or 4 glasses


250ml cream

250 ml milk

1 x 100g Bar One chocolate

4 marshmallows

15 ml cocoa powder

30 ml Nomu hot chocolate

3ml vanilla essence


12 marshmallows

cocoa powder


1) Put all ingredients into a pot onto the heat and stir until everything is melted

2) Top with marshmallows and cocoa powder

Cauliflower soup

Yields: about 2 litres (freeze extra soup for later eating)


45ml sunflower Oil

50 g butter

2 medium or 300 g sliced onions

1 sprig rosemary

2 medium or 225 g potatoes

1 large cauliflower

1 litre milk

300 ml milk

Salt and pepper


1) Put a heavy based pot on the heat. Add oil and butter.

2) When hot, add onions and sauté until caramelised.

3) Add the rosemary and chopped potatoes and sauté (chef’s note: after peeling and chopping the potato into small pieces do not put the potatoes into water as you need the natural starch in the potatoes to thicken the soup).

4) Finish with cauliflower and 1 litre of milk. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked.

5) Liquidise and strain. Bring back to the boil; add the extra +- 300 ml milk to get the soup to the correct consistency and season well with salt and pepper. (Chef’s note: as this is a milk based soup it does tend to burn easily so be careful when heating up.)

Sticky Date Pudding with Orange Marmalade Ice Cream Pudding

Yields: 4 large or 6 smaller portions


50 g butter

½ cup castor sugar

1 egg

100g dates, chopped

1 cup flour

¾ t baking powder

¾ cup milk


1) Cream the butter and sugar together.

2) Add the egg, chopped dates and continue whisking.

3) Sift the flour and baking powder and add to the above mixture alternatively with the milk.

4) Grease a 16x21 cm tin, add the mixture and bake in the oven at 160°C for about 20 minutes.

Caramel Sauce

Yields: 4-6 portions


2/3 cup white sugar

7 ml butter

333 ml cream


1) Melt the sugar on a low heat without stirring.

2) When all the sugar crystals are melted add the butter off the heat and then the cream and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated. You may need to put the sauce back on the heat.

Orange Marmalade Ice Cream


6 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

500ml cream

250 ml milk

75 ml All Gold orange marmalade

15 ml glucose (supplier: most pharmacies)


1) Beat egg yolks and sugar in an electric beater until light and creamy

2) Allow the cream, milk, marmalade and glucose to come to the boil.

3) Add warm cream mixture to beaten egg yolk mixture and strain.

4) If an ice cream machine isn’t available place chilled mixture into freezer. Whisk every 30 minutes until frozen to allow for a light and fluffy ice cream.


Mix All Gold Orange Marmalade into a tub of vanilla ice cream and re-freeze for later serving.

On serving:

1) Cut the pudding into desired portions and top each pudding with two to four tablespoons of boiling water. Place onto a tray into a very hot oven to heat up and get crispy on the outsides. When hot, top with heated caramel sauce and serve with orange segments and orange marmalade ice cream.


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