Terra Madre Elgin

Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin

Tucked away in Elgin, just after Peregrine off the N2 is a little known spot called Terra Madre. 
Run by the tenacious Nicole Precoudis and her parents Chris & Koula, this slice of heaven really is all about the farm to table experience and the quality of produce speaks for itself.  

I first heard about Terra Madre through a friend. She guessed that it would be right up my alley, and she was right. 
As you arrive, you are overwhelmed with the tremendous spectacle a beautifully run farm can be.
Greeted by rows of olive trees, apple orchards and veggie gardens; I was excited to find out more about this 18,5 hectare property.

The concept of the eatery is good honest food, grown organically and prepared with oodles of love. 
Nicole shared her journey with me; from the fast-paced lifestyle of owning and running 2 restaurants in Johannesburg to the epiphany that saw her acknowledge that she needed (and wanted) to slow down and make changes in her life. 
Nicole made the move to (a then) very rural Elgin over 10 years ago, purchased the farm and has been developing it ever since.
Opening Terra Madre was a natural, organic manifestation of her innate creativity which is more than apparent in the food that she serves.
The space is open and bright with limited seating so booking is essential and highly recommended. 

Nicole set out to create a space that is warm and welcoming.
Her Greek heritage certainly shines through in the sublime simplicity of the venue and the inclusive attitude of our hosts, who were insistent that we make ourselves at home. 
My entire family ended up coming along on this excursion and I’m happy that they did! 
In a superb display of unplanned storyline congruency, we filled the venue with our own inadvertent spirit of “familia” in true Mediterranean style. 
Now what can I say about the food?...  The platters just kept coming! Perfectly tender roasted fennel bulbs, earthy beetroot salads and tender sweet roasted butternut topped with walnuts and cranberries almost caused a riot with the vegetarians in my “hunting” party.
Of course, it goes without saying that the meat dishes were cooked to perfection and were hastily devoured by the more devout members of the carnivorous variety.
I quickly realized that although it was simple food prepared perfectly, paying homage to the ingredients, it was nothing short of a ‘feast fit for a king’.

The food was simply spectacular and the passion that drives Terra Madre behind the scenes; from the pasture to the plate translates into something explosive on the palate.  

Sitting and feasting with family is one of life’s simple pleasures. To be able to share an amazing place like Terra Madre with them was truly wonderful and I can honestly say that it was the perfect location for a family get together. 
We ended our day with a stroll on the property and sipped on ciders at the farm’s quarry at sunset.
The stillness of Elgin is infectious.
Who knows, maybe one day I will become a country bumpkin and move away from the city only to serve mouth watering food that guests will travel far and wide to appreciate. 

Until then, one thing is certain… I know where to make my escape when the mind calls for slow living.

A huge thank you to my brother Hendré for this beautiful video that did justice to this wonderful location! Hit play to see more! 

-Melissa

*This blog post was sponsored by Terra Madre, all opinions are my own. 

Fig Tarts

I recently found these beautiful plump figs at the local food market. It's called the Oranjezicht City Farm and it is in Granger Bay. The market is centered on fresh produce from your local farmer that is grown organically and ethically. I make a concerted effort to buy only organic and free range products for my household.

Organic food is something that in recent years has become quite prominent in my life. I feel there has been an awakening within me to know what I’m putting into my body and where it comes from. The food industry is a multi-billion-dollar corporation and the facts are that health and wellness are sacrificed in mass production. I have to ask, how often do you check where your eggs come from and how your beef found its way onto your plate? These are questions we need to ask ourselves. For instance, there are no long-term studies on how the hormones in our milk affect us and our children. Now don't get me wrong, I am not preaching veganism. I'm not even preaching vegetarianism. I am simply saying that arming yourself and your family with knowledge about what we eat will create a healthier life for you and the animals out there.

Now let's get back to my figs and how they transformed into one of the tastiest tarts I have ever baked.


serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 15 whole figs, washed
  • 30 grams castor sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • Zest of one orange
  • ¼ cup raw almond

For the short crust pastry

  • 125 grams butter
  • 100 grams icing sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 255 grams of plain flour
  • 1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds removed
  • Zest of ½ a lemon
  • 2 large yolks, preferably organic
  • 2 tablespoons cold milk or water

For the frangipane

  • 275 grams almond flour
  • 55 grams plain flour
  • 255 grams unsalted butter
  • 255 grams castor sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds removed (you can also use vanilla paste if you have, just add a teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon grappa

Instructions:

You have two options when making this. Option one: you can make it in a 28cm-greased tin or options two: in individual tartlets. I chose to make individual ones.

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

To make your pastry, cream together the butter, icing sugar and salt and rub in the flour, vanilla seeds or paste, lemon zest and eggs yolks – you can do this all by hand or you can do it in a food processor.  When the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs you can add the milk or water. Pat and gently work the mixture together until you have a ball of dough, then flour it lightly. Do not over work the pastry or it will become chewy instead of flaky. Wrap in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Remove it from the fridge, roll it out and line your tart tins or tin. Place in the freezer for an hour.

Remove from freezer and bake the pastry for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and turn it down to 170 degrees Celsius.

To make the frangipane, beat together your sugar and butter until light and creamy. Add your almond flour, lightly beaten eggs, vanilla and grappa. Beat until the mixture is smooth.  Place the mixture in the fridge for at least a half hour or until mixture is firm. 

Remove the stems from the figs. Score them at the top in a cross shape. Using your thumbs push up from the base opening the figs slightly.

Spoon the chilled frangipane mixture into the pastry cases or into the large tart tin, then lightly push the figs into the frangipane with the scored side up. Heat the sugar with the water and drizzle the syrup over the figs. Roughly chop the almonds and sprinkle over the top with the thyme leaves and orange zest.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes if you are doing the single big tart and 30 – 35 minutes for the individuals, or until the frangipane mixture has become firm and golden on the outside but still soft in the middle.

Allow cooling for about 30 – 40 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of mascarpone and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

-Melissa

Source: www.thetrufflejournal.com/fig-tarts

Liver & Oats organic dog treats

Baking is more fun if you can lick the spoon and I can guarantee you that, in this case, it is true….I have made doggie treats that will send your fur kids into pure bliss! 

Why organic?  

When Piglet (our Boston Terrier) fell ill at the age of 10 months we tried everything in our power to get him well. Plagued with vet visits and skin rashes we simply could not figure out what was causing him to be ill. We decided to do some intensive homework on the root causes of the symptoms we were witnessing and boy, was it a revelation.
The answers (and causes) turned out to be very much centered around what we were feeding him. 
My Partner and I tend to be so precious over what we put into our own bodies - Yet I’ll admit, when it came to Piglet, kibbles seemed ok. 

Of course, they were the “top of the range” kibbles – grain free, “real meat” et all and we tried them all, but ultimately, when we started down the rabbit hole that is Google – we were forever changed.
Once the journey of awareness began, and we were no longer ignorant to the giant con of the dog food industry we could never go back.

Here is an interesting read for those of you who want to educate yourself about what you are feeding your babies.  

The summary of our GOOGLE discoveries? Kibbles were the equivalent of feeding Piglet MacDonald’s everyday. How could we expect his immune system to fight off disease with that diet? Giving him medicine was fighting the symptoms and not the cause. Right there and then we then decided to move him over to organic, natural, real, food. (I must admit, I am more than slightly embarrassed that I relied on preconceived ideas and inherited opinions about pet care)

What do I mean by real food? Simple – REAL FOOD.  We moved over to a local brand that cooks organic real food and delivers to our door. All for the same price as the better quality kibbles on the market – so price should not be a factor! 
It contains veggies, herbs and real meat. We add our own extras such as grated apples. Yoghurt, broccoli or carrots and top it off with cold pressed omega 3 fish oils, spirulina and joint supplements. 
It sounds like a feast fit for a prince and it is. Prince Piglet. 

So, in the spirit of knowing exactly what your pet is consuming and ensuring they get exactly what their little (or big) bodies need; I recently decided to make doggie treats here at home. 
I know what goes into them and Pig simply loves them! 
The best part of this? He gets to lick the spoon with his friends Betty (the chocolate lab) and Basil (the labra-doodle)


Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups oat flour
  • 1 ½ cups brown rice flour
  • 230 grams organic free-range chicken liver
  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 1 ½ cups oat bran
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup water

Instructions:

Preheat you oven to 180 degrees Celsius 

Puree your liver in a food processor. Clean out your processor immediately afterwards as the liver has a tendency to stick and can be a real pain to clean up later! 

In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly until dough forms. I used my hands and just got in there, as it is much quicker! 

If you do not have a silicon dog treat tray, roll the dough into 2cm diameter balls. Place on a cookie tray that has been covered with foil, as this will make it easier to clean up later. If you do have doggie treat silicon moulds then fill the moulds with your dough. 

Bake for 25 minutes and then turn your oven off and leave the treats on the pan/moulds in the oven overnight. This allows the biscuits to dry out and become crunchy! 

Store them in an airtight container and don’t forget the “sit”

 

Source: www.thetrufflejournal.com/liver-oats-organic-dog-treats

quinoa salad

This is one of my all time favourite party tricks. Yes, this salad. For those of you who are not that familiar with quinoa, it is a grain that is very high in protein, simply delicious and easy to make. It has a marvelous nutty flavour to it and it is tastier than most rice’s and healthier to serve. 

This salad is my go to salad when I have my vegetarian friends come over. When I make this salad I more often than not don't make meat, although you can serve it with pan-fried moist chicken breasts if you want. It’s beyond filling and decked out with so many flavours that it will leave you wanting more. It’s the salad I take with to a braai (South African barbecue) and impress everyone with, or it’s a great salad to make for lunch, work or to nibble on at home.

The amazing thing with this salad is that once you get the hang of it and its ingredients you can start playing around with what you add to it, making it your own symphony of flavours. 

Here is my version of this healthy, delicious and colourful salad! 


Serves: 5

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 butternut, medium, peeled and sliced
  • half a head of broccoli 
  • 1 red onion 
  • 1 baby red cabbage
  • 50g pine nuts 
  • 100g rocket 
  • 100ml balsamic vinegar
  • 100ml water 
  • olive oil to dress the salad 
  • 40g parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 180℃

Place your peeled and sliced butternut on a roasting tray and drizzle it with olive oil. Making sure all the pieces are covered. If you do not want them to char, cover with foil (shiny side down) and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork. 

While your butternut is roasting slice your red onion into rings. If you find it easier you can also slice it in half and slice half rings from there. Put the water and balsamic into a pot over a low heat. Put the onions in and let them simmer and reduce. It should take about half an hour depending on your heat for them to become sticky and be fully reduced. Once the onions have reduced set them aside. 

In another pot put your one-cup of quinoa to two cups boiling water and a pinch of salt. Make sure the water is boiled before adding it. Cook over a low to medium heat for 30 minutes. If the water disappears before 30 minutes just turn the heat off and put the lid of the pot on. The moisture and residual heat will continue to cook the quinoa. Don’t add more water. Keep an eye on it so that the bottom doesn't burn. At the 25-minute mark just lightly fluff the quinoa with a fork. If you give the quinoa a taste it should still have some crunch but not be too hard-al dente one could say. Once ready set aside. 

In a large bowl grate the broccoli head (tree top bits), the Parmesan cheese and the baby red cabbage. Once they are all in add the rocket to mixture. 

Place your pine nuts in a small pan and over a low heat. Make sure you tend to them and watch them. When roasting nuts they can go from zero to burnt in two seconds. just keep turning them until they are golden brown and toasted. 

Grab your butternut out of the oven and add to your salad bowl. Add your quinoa and balsamic onions. Salt and pepper the salad to taste. Give the salad a good mix and drizzle with a great olive oil. My favourite is Rio Largo olive oil and you can shop it here. Once everything is mixed in and the salad is dressed, sprinkle the pine nuts on top.

This salad is great served hot but just as delicious cold! 

-Melissa