Foolproof sous vide ribeye steak recipe

Dinner last night. A foolproof recipe for rare sous vide ribeye steak, paired with a Vietnamese zucchini noodle salad a, fried onion rings and roast potatoes.

Since getting our Joule sous vide cooker from Chefsteps, we’ve been trying all our favourite recipes to see if sous vide is all it is made out to be. The result – an absolutely tender, juicy and meaty ribeye steak, cooked to perfection.

Just a quick note on the Joule. Some commentators have called it the Apple of cooking devices and it is – sorta. The Joule is a sleek, one button, app driven device that goes straight into your favourite pasta pot (or cooler box or whatever you have that can hold enough water so submerge your food) that cooks your food in a consistent water temperature.

Your food by the way is protected by either a ziplock bag or if you’re fancy or need to cook for longer than 7 hours, a more professional vacuum sealer. The result of this cooking method, is always tender, juicy and succulent (there I used all those words in a sentence) meat. From poultry to fish, steaks to eggs, vegetables to custards. You name it, the Joule could probably cook it.

For this recipe I sous vide two ribeye steaks in the bag with goodies (fresh tyme, a splash of olive oil, pepper and smoked paprika) for 40 minutes at 122F. This cooks the steaks to blue. Finishing them off with a quick 40 second sear on each side in a piping hot griddle pan after the sous vide cook brings the internal temperature to rare – just the way we like it.

The Vietnamese salad dressing and cilantro balances very nicely with the thyme & garlic rib eye and the crunchy potatoes.

Next time I’ll work on the plating presentation. I was just too hungry to bother.


Traditional Christmas gammon

It is that time of the year again – time for a traditional Christmas gammon feast. Over the years I’ve tried a number of recipes. Back in 2009 I made one by cooking the gammon in Coke,  another year with a Chinese five-spice mix for an oriental flavour, a South African version with Castle lager, one with a mustard glaze and another with marmalade. Suffice to say, I’ve tried them all.

Yet, the one that never fails to satisfy is the traditional Christmas gammon topped with pineapple and a cranberry glaze. It’s tried and tested and even through the presentation may come straight from an 80’s Christmas table, we know it works. The only challenge is that the crispy glazed pineapple rings also become a very hot commodity at the Christmas table. So if you do not spark and get yourself a piece, someone will be sure to have grabbed it already – evidenced by the picture below. ;-(

Traditional Christmas Gammon dinner
Traditional Christmas Gammon dinner with all the trimmings

I was also quite surprised that we never uploaded any of our gammon recipes to Sustenance before – an obvious oversight, since gammon is a firm favourite in the house.

Just one thing to remember, if you use a smoked gammon then pre-cooking it in a vegetable broth/bath is not necessary in my opinion. Slow roasting on a 160/180 oven should do the trick. Otherwise you can prepare a bath by placing the gammon in a pot with enough fresh water to half cover the joint. Add some peppercorns, parsley stalks, an onion, a carrot and a bay leaf. Heat up to just about to boiling point and then set to a slow simmer. You don’t want to boil the gammon. Then just finish it off under the grill to glaze and crisp up.

I therefore present to you the recipe for a traditional Christmas gammon topped with pineapple and a cranberry glaze.


Let me know what flavour profile you like for your Christmas gammon dish.

Biltong recipe – Rugby World Cup 2015

If you’ve ever attended a gathering of rugby supporters, braai aficionados or generally any group of 2 or more South Africans, there’s bound to be some biltong or droëwors as part of the snack ensemble.

With the price of biltong in the region of about R250/kg it could seriously make a dent in your pocket with all the World Cup Rugby 2015 games in the tournament.

So why not make your own with this quick and easy biltong recipe?  Biltong usually calls for the cheaper topside or silverside cuts of beef which means you’ll be munching away at your own signature biltong at a fraction of the price of the ready-made variety. And you get double-points for being able to make your own.

Naturally you could also make biltong from ostrich, chicken, bacon or any other game meat.

Biltong recipe

Since summer is upon us, making biltong in the cold confines of the garage in winter  becomes less of an option, so rather opt for a quick biltong maker. I use the Mellerware Biltong King, biltong maker and hydrator which you can find almost everywhere. Expect to pay in the region of R250-R500 for a box. Shop around, there are some specials at the moment.

For this biltong recipe I used Smoked Flavours’ Liquid Smoke. The hickory smoke flavour in my last batch of biltong was an incredible hit with family and friends. So I will definitely be doing that again.

The biltong spice comes from our local butchery, Country Meat. We found this mix to work the best for us. Try some of their biltong first, and if you like it just get one of their biltong kits. It contains between 2-3kg of biltong meat and a sachet of biltong spice.

For complete decadence – try Country Meat’s waygu beef biltong. It has at an eye-watering price, but it is pretty good.

If you want to make your own biltong spice, just combine 1/2 cup ground coriander, 2 Tbs ground black pepper, 1/2 cup sea salt (not pouring or table salt – Himalayan pink salt works wonders) and 2 Tbs brown sugar.  Taste the mix and adjust to fit the flavour profile you’re trying to achieve. You could also add some smoked paprika to the mix.

On with the biltong recipe then.


Depending on the weather conditions (warm weather vs. cooler temperature), the cuts of meat (thicker strips vs. thinner strips), how you like your meat (soft or hard), the drying time could vary from 24 hours to 5 days. The biltong maker is quite efficient, so it doesn’t take that long before you can sample your first batch.

Basically if you start by latest on Wednesday, you could have your very own batch of biltong ready for the World Cup Rugby game on Saturday.

And that’s a win in anyone’s books – regardless of how the team performs.

Springbok sushi rolls – Rugby World Cup 2015

It is the Rugby World Cup 2015 and what better way to celebrate the games than with family, friends, good food and the amazing spirit of supporting the South Africa national team.

In honour of the games, I thought of combining a recipe from South Africa and from each of the countries we’re competing with for the coveted William Webb Ellis trophy. Few may know that my passion is fusion food – combining different styles and tastes into a (hopefully) harmonious marriage of taste and experience.

South Africa is playing against Japan in their opening match of the RWC. So what dishes are these countries famous for?

For Japan it is quite simple. Many people would immediately think of sushi. And if you think of the South African rugby team – The Springboks – one or another meat dish comes to mind. So in honour of the match between Japan and South Africa, I bring you Springbok sushi rolls.

Springbok carpaccio would work extremely well as a substitute to salmon, smoked salmon or even tuna. Similarly , this could work with any other venison meat including ostrich.

For this dish and to make things a bit easier – you’ll need smoked springbok carpaccio. You could of course make your own carpaccio and that would be as simple and even tastier. But for ease, we’re using smoked carpaccio.

Serve with wasabi and soy sauce.

You could also roll the sushi rolls in sesame seeds before slicing, but this is optional.

Update: South Africa lost 32-34 against Japan.

Disclaimer: Smoked Salmon Sushi Rolls Pictured

Quick pickled courgettes and pickled carrots

Just a touch over a year ago I posted a recipe for quick pickled red onions and since then I’ve had this incredible craving for all things pickled.

Almost all things, as I will still draw a line on pickled eggs. So then this foolproof recipe (actually two recipes in one) for quick pickled courgettes and pickled carrots.

You could also use any other veggie of choice such as classic pickled cucumber,  sweet pepper, fennel, cauliflower, beets, asparagus or red onions amongst a few options.

You may recall that I mentioned my grandfather who has always been a fan of pickling, canning and making curries and atchars out of all kinds of produce.

Most recently I’ve been playing around with adding pickled courgettes / zucchini / baby marrow and carrots over and above the usual cucumber and red onion to our pulled pork buns (replacing the coleslaw) and boerewors rolls (South African style hot dog – but made with beef/pork sausage).

These pickles are enough to transform the good old Saturday shopping wors roll to incredibly moreish gourmet fare.

If this is your first foray into pickles, you certainly won’t be disappointed. It is quick, easy and you don’t need any special equipment.

I’m all about as little fuss as possible, so most of my pickles are based on the cold-pack vinegar method, which is basically a fancy way of saying refrigerator pickles.

This means that the pickles rely on the cold temperatures of the fridge for the preservation and not a specific pH level of the vinegar. I think this method is a bit more forgiving and takes very little time.


Actually, we’ve been using these pickles on many other dishes and even once to give new life and zing to a take-out burger from Steers.

SAA in-flight meal Johannesburg to Nairobi

In my line of work I’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel frequently across Africa and Europe in a company-rented Jettly jet. This has meant many meals from different countries, cultures, hotels, restaurants and airplanes. Each one an experience in its own right. My recent SAA in-flight meal on a trip from Johannesburg to Nairobi (Kenya) was a particularly good experience.

It is fair to say that not all airline meals are created equal. Over the years I’ve had some very tasty meals and some truly bad experiences.

I don’t often get to travel in business class, but I’ve yet to experience a terrible meal service when I do get bumped up from cattle class (economy). I can fully appreciate why business folk look decidedly more refreshed than their economy counterparts. The meal service, the personal attention (they address you by name on some flights) and naturally the ample space and amenities provided to these passengers are bound to leave you with a more favorable impression.

Interestingly, South African Airways (SAA) recently partnered with Masterchef SA judge and Tsogo Sun Executive Chef, Chef Benny Masekwameng to help inspire some of their dishes.

It is not the first time an airline has partnered with a celebrity chef to reinvent some of their in-flight meals. Molecular gastronomy and Michelin star chef, Heston Blumenthal partnered with British Airways to update and reinvigorate their in-flight cuisine.

On my recent trip to Kenya, I was fortunate to be bumped to business class and got to experience chef Benny’s take on reinventing the in-flight meal. Luckily this was not your regular chicken or vegetable pasta choice but a very nice selection of canapés, appetizers, main course and desert along with a decent wine pairing.

Our canapés consisted of a trio of duck l’orange with asparagus spear, prawn cocktail and mini caprese salad.
SAA in-flight meal Johannesburg to Nairobi canapes

SAA in-flight meal Johannesburg to Nairobi canapes
This was followed by a choice of appetizers – springbok carpaccio, minted courgette or a seasonal salad.

I opted for the springbok carpaccio with baby spinach, gooseberry chutney and Parmesan shavings. This was accompanied by a small seasonal salad with artichoke hearts. The springbok was extremely tender and delicious. The balsamic reduction paired well with the gooseberry chutney and provided just the right amount of sweetness and tartness to the carpaccio.
SAA in-flight meal Johannesburg to Nairobi

SAA in-flight meal Johannesburg to Nairobi Springbok carpaccio

Our options for mains included braised lamb, oregano chicken breast, seafood cannelloni and a butternut and spinach panzerotti.

The braised lamb was indicated as chef’s choice and there was no reason for me to resist that option.

The braised lamb was served with roast potatoes, mixed chutney vegetables and caramelised onion. To say that it was some of the best lamb curry I had in quite a while would be an understatement. The most tender and flavourful cubes of lamb, combined with the sweetness of the caramelised red onions and peppers, crunchiness of the courgettes and the fluffy potatoes made for a very enjoyable meal. No additional seasoning was necessary. A perfect balance.
SAA in-flight meal Johannesburg to Nairobi braised lamb

I paired my appetizers and main meal with one of SAA’s premium selection of wines – in this case a Allée Bleue Isabeau 2013.

Named after the stately avenue of bluegums leading to a 300 year old estate in the Franschhoek Valley. This flagship white blend of Chardonnay, Semillon and Voignier creates an exotic melange, barrel-fermented and aged on lees for full, creamy mouthfeel, enticing with citrus and dried apricot aromas, layers of spicy cinnamon, vanilla and summer fruits with lingering lemon flavours.

Basically, a very nice wine to complement the aromatics in the lamb (I definitely picked up notes of apricots and cinnamon in the sauce) and to soften any residual heat from the spices.

For the dessert course I opted for a classic selection of cheese and crackers but paired this with the KWV Classic Cape Tawny port.

This full flavoured wine explodes with fruit, marzipan and toffee on the palate, with a well-balanced sweet finish. Extended wood maturation resulted in a beautiful amber colour with orange zest, dried fruit, caramel and nuttiness on the nose.

Again to say that this stood up well to similar Tawny ports from other regions of the world.
SAA in-flight meal Johannesburg to Nairobi Cheese

The meal was a great success and I hope to be able to sample more of these. If you fly business from South Africa to Kenya on SAA you will not be disappointed.

On a scale of one to five, I rate this meal five hot towels.

Rooibos iced tea

We like our rooibos tea and I particularly love a good cup of red espresso or red cappuccino as an alternative to coffee.

For those who just arrived on the planet, welcome. Let me introduce to you rooibos tea.

According to Wikipedia:

Rooibos is usually grown in Cederberg, a small area in the region of the Western Cape province of South Africa.

The leaves are used to make a herbal tea called Rooibos.

In South Africa, it is common to prepare rooibos tea in the same manner as black tea and add milk and sugar to taste. Other methods include a slice of lemon and using honey instead of sugar to sweeten.

Several coffee shops in South Africa have recently begun to sell red espresso, which is concentrated rooibos served and presented in the style of ordinary espresso. This has given rise to rooibos-based variations of coffee drinks such as red lattes and red cappuccinos.

More recently, drinks such as the Cape Town Fog have popped up that is made using rooibos tea steeped in steamed milk with vanilla syrup.

There are of course many other uses for rooibos tea other than just for tea. When I entered the first season of MasterChef South Africa, my audition dish was a rooibos tea smoked ostrich carpaccio. The initial round of judges liked my food, but I fell out at the video audition – something about having a face for radio. But I digress

Some other dishes such as rooibos shortbread, rooibos poached pears, rooibos smoked salmon, ice cream and as a main ingredient in a spare rib marinade.

Recently we stocked up on our Nespresso compatible coffee pods and were pleasantly surprised when Caffeluxe introduced us to their Rooibos Espresso. I also recently found the pods from redespresso – so choices galore.

One of my French colleagues loves to say, “Frankly speaking…”. And frankly speaking, I find these pods produce a much better cup of espresso and cappuccino than what I generally find at coffee shops. Still, few things beat sharing a red cappuccino with a good friend. This is meant to be shared.

The kids love rooibos tea as well and I recently found a recipe on Youtube for Fresh Red – A rooibos iced tea. Simple and easy and uses all of 3 ingredients. Even the kids can make it themselves and we know how they love to be independent.


Vegan coconut curry

We still have to do a full post of our experience at the Fry’s Family cook-off held at the Capsicum Cullinary Studio a while ago. Life happens when you need to be posting recipes right?

We’ve been fortunate enough to experience Fry’s range of meat-free vegan products on two occasions.

Once for a private birthday dinner party for Victoire, unfortunately I was in Vienna at the time, and at the recent cooking experience at Capsicum. Some pictures of that throughout the post.

Capsicum Cullinary Studio with Fry's family foods
Capsicum Cullinary Studio with Fry’s family foods

Fry’s range of vegan products are meat-free and made from proteins which come from grains and legumes. For a confirmed red-meat carnivore, I can vouch that their chicken and prawn style products are very tasty.

Sceptical as I was as first, the product has the same mouth feel and texture of meat. Totally uncanny. You might just forget that you’re not eating meat.

There are some other benefits. This stuff cooks incredibly quickly. Most meals can be done in less than 30 mins and for the folk who are always pressed for time, this is a bonus. A healthy home-cooked meal in 20 mins and easy on the pocket. You can’t order takeout quicker than that.

Fry's vegan meat free crispy prawns and chicken strips
Fry’s vegan meat free crispy prawns and chicken strips

We particularly like the chicken style burgers, chicken style strips and the crispy prawns and you’ll find a few boxes of these in our freezer, ready for a quick meal.

vegan chicken style burgers with sweet potato fries
vegan chicken style burgers with sweet potato fries

Fry’s can be found in the freezer section at all major retailers.

Fry's is available in the freezer section at most major retailers
Fry’s is available in the freezer section at most major retailers

Tonight I made the coconut prawn curry – a firm favourite in our house.

The little ones are not so hot on the curry / chilli which we omit from the recipe, but sprinkle on afterwards for that extra ‘bite’. We normally up the ginger and add a teaspoon of corriander and some cumin for a similar taste.

Vegan coconut prawn curry
Cook time

Total time


Recipe type: Vegan
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4

  • 1 pack of Fry’s Meat Free Crispy Prawns
  • 4 tbsp. oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. ginger and garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 2 green chillies, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp. garam masala
  • 4 tomatoes, grated
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • Coriander for garnish

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in saucepan and add Fry’s prawns. Fry until golden brown and drain and set aside.
  2. Add another 2 tablespoons of oil to saucepan and add mustard seeds, onions, chillies, ginger and garlic paste, chilli powder and garam masala. Cook till golden brown.
  3. Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add chickpeas and allow to cook through.
  5. Stir in prawns and coconut milk. Simmer for 2 minutes and garnish with coriander.

We served it with cauliflower couscous,  but you could use couscous, naan bread or basmati rice. Either way, we’re convinced you’ll want to double the recipe next time.

So much for leftovers
So much for leftovers


Foolproof plum tart

Some three weeks ago our local Food Lovers Market had a special on plums, something to the tune of 3kg for R20. The going rate at the time for plums from one of the other major retailers was R24.99 for 750g. Bargain right. And since I had an insatiable craving for the Victoria plum, I immediately purchased three bags. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Three bags full.

Naturally, many of the plums were still quite tart and would benefit from ripening at home. As the days progressed, they became sweeter and sweeter. The kids faces were often smeared with the plum juice and the ever present sticky hands and fingers. A success in my books.

Many a recipe was also tried during our “plum harvest” – including a family favourite – cinnamon caramelised plums with vanilla ice cream. Simple yet, effective. Watch out for the post on that. I even made ostrich kebabs with grilled plums. The pairing of the gamey ostrich and the plums worked perfectly.

On my return from a recent trip to Tanzania, I noticed the last batch of plums were reaching full maturity – super sweet with a light tart finish. I had to do something with them before they went off.

Plum torte (tart) came to mind. I had never made one before and I have mentioned that baking wasn’t really my forte. That said, I was looking forward for that bite of sweet & tarte torte. Searching through pinterest, I noticed that the vast majority of pins reference one specific recipe – Marian Burros’s recipe for Plum Torte.

As it happens, this recipe has been around for ages and published annually by the New York Times from 1982 until 1989. It had to be fool proof right?

So here’s my, slightly adapted version of that recipe.


Plum tart out of the oven
Plum tart out of the oven

Plum tart sliced
Plum tart sliced

The dish came out perfectly. It may look different from the stylised pictures of the New York Times or elsewhere on the internet, but the proof is literally in the pudding. The entire family tucked in and my three year old son had more than one helping. Definitely one to keep in our family cookbook.

Pickled red onions

My grandfather used to pickle or chutney every conceivable ingredient he could lay his hands on. One of the more successful and lasting endeavours must be his pickled red onions.

This is super simple and takes only 10 minutes to make. Ready to give a lift to any sandwich, or add a tart, sweet and zippy flavour to a tomato, cucumber and avocado salad or salsa. We also often have them on a grilled steak or fish.

pickled red onions



Since this is not a big batch and we’re doing this in winter, the mixture tends to cool down quite quickly. So you could tuck into the pickled onions almost immediately. For best results, let it stand in the fridge for a day or two to develop flavour.

quick pickled red onion

While these pickled onions will last indefinitely in your fridge, I doubt it will be there for too long in any case. Next time you can play around with different flavour pairings such as red peppercorns, cloves, star anise, ginger, cumin, bay leaves or any other spice you have available.

Quick garlic bread with rosemary and sea salt

When the craving for garlic bread hits you this quick garlic bread with rosemary and sea salt recipe will fill that gap for sure.

I cannot profess to be any good at baking, in fact, I would rather steer clear of baking if I can help it. Outside of malva pudding, sticky toffee pudding, balsamic caramelised onion and blue cheese tart or breakfast pastry cups, my baking repertoire is fairly limited.

So when the craving for some home-made crusty buttery garlic bread rolls hits, you heed the call. I know it’s not LCHF/Banting friendly, but look at all the other ingredients that are good for you. Garlic is rich in several different nutrients, including vitamin C, calcium and iron while rosemary is a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6. The Himalayan pink salt includes over 84 minerals and trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron. Hmm, just look at all that calcium.

I used to be in the Voortrekkers (Afrikaans version of the Scouts) and were taught how to make potbrood (pot bread), griddlecakes (roosterkoek) and stokbrood (stick bread) – quite literally bread dough wrapped around a stick and baked on the fire. When it was ready, we would dollop some fresh butter and honey in the cavity created by the stick. The steam created inside the cavity would melt the butter and honey and every bite was heaven on earth.

Whenever we had a big family gathering we would do a traditional braai (barbeque) with loads of salads, veggies and of course garlic pot bread. The garlic bread would be baked in a cast iron pot with some medium-hot coals underneath and on top of the lid to bake as if in an oven.
potbrood cast iron bread

For the bread dough you have two options – make it yourself (full recipe below) or for a quick option, just pop over to your local grocery store or bakery and buy one of their bags of fresh bread dough. It works out to around R10 a kilo and makes enough bread to feed 8 hungry people.

If you want to be a bit more rustic about it and you have the time, why not make your own. Our go to recipe is as follows:


Serve with a good dollop of butter, perhaps add some honey, chunky peach or apricot jam for a sweet treat. But it is perfect just with a dash of butter.
Quick garlic bread with rosemary and sea salt

Parmesan roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potato

Parmesan roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potato makes one of the easiest side dishes that pairs very well with most meat and chicken based meals.

I know that brussels sprouts normally have a bad rap, many people don’t like them, but I hasten to bet that it is because they’ve either been steamed or boiled to death. Ever considered roasting them?

The kids love the little caramelised cabbage heads and it has become one of the staple dishes in our repertoire. The addition of sweet potato bulks up the dish a bit and adds a nice sweet note. It is pretty moreish, trust me.

This couldn’t be easier. You’ll probably want to double the recipe next time. Try them with bacon bits, a sprinkling of paprika or a dash of balsamic vinegar. The options are endless.


Slow braised short ribs with butternut mash

Sundays are for…? Slow braised short ribs with butternut mash. A hearty winter warmer with fall off the bone meat and a buttery smokey honeyed butternut mash.

I always ask the guys at Country meat butchery and deli in Fourways, to cut me about 3kgs of short ribs from a full slab in an English style cut.

Difference between English style and Flanken style beef short ribs

English style: The ribs are cut parallel to the bone, with one bone per piece. They tend to hold their shape even after a long braise and make an impressive presentation.

Beef Short Ribs English Flanken Cut

Flanken style: The ribs are cut across the bone. Each piece has three to four short sections of bone with a generous portion of meat around them. The cooked ribs should fall off the bone in tender pieces.

So, the English style works much better for this recipe.

View step by step


After this hearty meal, you will probably want to go take a nap. You deserve it.

Roasted cauliflower soup

Roasted cauliflower soup is currently our favourite go-to meal when we don’t particularly feel like cooking. Since it’s also winter here, few meals can beat the warm comforting taste of roasted cauliflower, mixed in with a healthy dose of roasted garlic and coconut cream.

Roast cauliflower soup recipe

For those on the Banting (LCHF) meal plan, this is a winner.

This recipe calls for roasting cauliflower and garlic in the oven for about half an hour until the cauliflower is tender and just starting to brown. This gives the cauliflower a deeper and richer flavour.

roasted cauliflower soup

While the cauliflower is roasting, soften the veggies and herbs in a pot. Add the cauliflower to the veggies with the stock and cook till soft.
Roast cauliflower soup - aromatics

Blend/puree the soup mix together with a can of coconut cream.
Roast cauliflower soup blending with coconut cream

And there you have it. Roast cauliflower soup with garlic and coconut cream.


A couple of notes.

We’ve made this soup a couple of times and we all love it – even the kids ask for seconds. At first I used dried thyme, which left a few stalks in the final soup.

This is probably unavoidable unless you want to go through the process of straining your soup for an even silkier finish, but I think this might be slightly overkill for a hearty soup. I prefer to use fresh thyme if available.

A blender or stick blender seems to get better results than the food processor. If you want a smoother finish go for the blender, if you like it a little more chunky, the food processor will work perfectly.

You can add as little or as much garlic to the roasting process as you want. We once put in a whole bulb and it was fantastic. Using about 6 whole cloves is the minimum we would use to get that nice rich flavour profile.

Experiment to your taste and enjoy.