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Monday, 12 September 2011

Cooking with Jan at Vygeboom Dam

On 10 September we kicked off 'Cooking with Jan'. A while back, we decided with four other couples to organize monthly cooking days where I would be the guest chef and teach the group some culinary secrets. This fantastic initiative was brought to life with the passionate drive of Bertus and Danny Vos, two first class gourmet lovers. Danielle, a Belgian globetrotter, inherited a family tradition in gastronomy, having dined in some of Europe's best restaurants. This passion only got fired when she met Lambertus Petrus Vos, a South African with the same love for the good things in life (such as cooking a stuffed 'Beeshart' (Beef heart) in a 'Potjie' (a cast-iron pot used to cook on open fire) and water-ski with open mouth).

Anyway, too cut a long story short, it is now 7h30 and I am watching the sun rise over Vygeboom Dam in the Highlands Meander in Mpumalanga, enjoying the coffee after the first cooking session yesterday evening. Hans and Tine's daughters successfully revived a half-dead Bat on the beat of Kurt Darren and just as it managed to fly out, it got caught by a Fiscal Shrike in front of the Dam. This is Africa! Yes, it was Kosie Vos' (Bertus' cousin) cooking night, giving it a few unforgettable extras:
  • it didn't remain a cooking night as first agreed, but a weekend breakaway;
  • Kosie having the finest collection of Single Malt Whisky, along with a collection of concert DVD's that can wake up South Africans on the other side of the Dam;
  • water-ski end jet-ski sessions to warm up for the dinner.
So next time you hear Neil Diamond, Rod Stewart, Mark Knopfler or Amy Belle, and you are remembered of the Whisky cream sauce, here are the tips and hints to take away from this dinner:

Smoked Trout and Mango chutney tart with Lagavulin cream


Trout Tart
  • Wafer-thin sliced Smoked Trout
  • Smoked Trout fillets
  • Fresh Mango
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • 1/2 teaspoon French Mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic reduction with Blueberries
  • 1 squeeze Lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1/2 Red onion
  • Freshly chopped  Parsley
  • 6 tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Virgin olive oil
  • 15 pink peppercorns
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 2 dl Full Cream
  • 4 tablespoons Lagavulin
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 squeeze/tablespoon of Lemon juice (to taste)
  • White pepper
  • Salt


Mix all the ingredients for the sauce and let it rest in the refrigerator (if the sauce becomes too thick, dilute it with some water). Mix the cucumber, mango and tomato cubes with the vinaigrette and fill the trout tarts in alternating layers of chutney and smoked trout fillet. Decorate with some finely sliced cucumber skin that has been in ice-water for 30 minutes (it will get crunchy). Drizzle the sauce around the tart and finish with a few drops of Balsamic reduction.

For the frying of steaks and red meat, please see my previously published article: 'The art of frying red meat'.

Gratin of sweet potato

  • Sweet potato
  • Firm cooking potato
  • Full cream
  • Milk
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • Nutmeg

Slice the peeled potatoes and place them in alternating layers (sweet potato - potato - sweet potato) in a buttered oven dish (you can rub the dish with a garlic clove first).
Mix the cream with nutmeg, pepper, salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly crushed garlic. The mixture should taste hearty and slightly salty. Add a little bit of milk if needed to make it lighter (maximum 1/5 of the mixture). Poor the cream mixture over the potato slices (the level of liquid should be barely covering the slices) and place in a pre-heated oven at 230 degrees Celcius. Bake for 1h30 until the potatoes are done, yet not mushy. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed by the potatoes. Just make sure the top layer of potatoes is covered with cream and does not burn. Note that you can make this dish beforehand, e.g. the day before.

Custard Cream

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 300 grams of sugar
  • 1 litre of milk
  • a vanilla pod

Bring the milk to the boil with the opened Vanilla pod. In the meantime, beat the egg yolks with the sugar so it becomes a white mass. Pour the boiling milk onto the mixture and then return it into the casserole. Stir with a wooden spoon until it reaches about 65 degrees Celcius and it thickens without resulting in an omelet on the bottom. Cool down.



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