Crustless Spinach Quiche: from Jacarandell Farm to Table

Warm crustless spinach quiche, wholesome and delicious

Most Zimbabwean children were put off eating vegetables due to the cooking methods of boarding schools – sadly they were all boiled.. bad enough – but over boiled – yikes! Every nutrient was nuked. How was one meant to enjoy a sloppy pile of olive green “matter”?

It was almost impossible to identify which vegetable was being served, although at least we knew when we were getting carrots. However, these were boiled to a sad, pale, peach colour. I remember the nauseating smell of boiled spinach or cabbage wafting down the corridors of Godfrey Huggins, Marandellas (now Marondera), as we lined up for lunch. I was always relieved when gem squash was also served – at least I could hide the spinach under the upturned skin! I’m sure the matrons always knew what was going on as they cleared the plates – why were there so many upside down gem squash skins on such clean plates?

Fresh farm spinach!

Spinach is a vegetable which grows beautifully here in Umguza, and thankfully my faith in this versatile vegetable has been restored. There is a bountiful supply of this disease-free, prolific and nutritious leafy veg growing through every season – from Swiss Chard, with it’s gorgeous cerise, yellow and green stems and veins, to old fashioned green spinach, as well as the baby variety.

Luckily we have cream and eggs “on tap”. Soured cream or creme fraiche adds so much flavour to this tasty quiche! I love making this crustless version, as I do not enjoy making pastry, and of course it reduces the calorie intake hugely. To be honest I never look at a recipe and I wing it when I make this so I do hope the quantities are ok.

This will make a large quiche for a big family – my normal ceramic quiche dish is 34 x 24cm and 7cm deep. Try it and let me know. Here goes!

Gorgeous red onions drying

Jacarandell Crustless Spinach Quiche

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Chop and fry 2 onions (preferably red) with 2 big cloves of crushed garlic in a splash of olive oil until golden.

Melt a large knob of butter in a saucepan on medium heat, add a few tablespoons water and add approximately 12 large chopped up spinach leaves with Finely sliced stalks until they are wilted. Stir the spinach with Mr Sibanda’s spatula – perfect for this job. Do not overcook! Drain the spinach through a colander and cool.

Beat 4 large eggs and mix with 400- 500 mls warmed cream (soured is best – soured farm cream is better!)

Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, freshly ground pepper and a few pinches nutmeg to the cream and egg mixture, then stir in the wilted spinach, fried onions and garlic.

Grease a large pyrex or oven proof ceramic dish and pour the mixture in.

Cover with grated cheddar cheese – the thicker the layer, the better! Sprinkle paprika over the top.

Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes – make sure the top is golden brown and the quiche is cooked through. Cool slightly and serve with salad and crusty bread. YUM!

Mr Sibanda’s Spoons – essential in my kitchen!
A custom-made chopping board made from the fallen branch of an Acacia Fleckii Tree

For Jacarandell product enquiries please contact Frances frandell@yoafrica.com

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Granny Lucy’s Coffee Ice-Cream: from Jacarandell Farm to Table

As the partial lock down continues in Zimbabwe, I’m thankful that nature takes no notice. Spring is unfolding in a glorious kaleidoscope of colours as the heat rises in parched, dry, beautiful Matabeleland.

Galpinii Trees towering over riverine landscape

From scarlet and pink poppies, purple and lilac larkspur, to bright orange Clivea and multi-coloured petunias, the garden is a splash of radiance in the haze of the bush beyond.

The Galpiniis are almost leafless, towering over the mighty Umguza River below, and we wait for their mustard yellow caterpillar-like flowers to burst open miraculously. Bird song starts early as the orange-gold globe of the sun rises over the dusty blue hills. What a beautiful time of year it is.

Poppies brighten up the August haze

As it gets hotter I feel there is no alternative but to make the most delicious ice-cream in readiness for guests – and the farm cream certainly does help. We’ve had a lot of visitors recently and that is due to our “Heroes and Ancestors” weekend just past.

Safari regions are quiet at present, due to the lack of international travellers, and now that National Parks have opened to locals, we are in a perfect position to host family and friends en route, as they take advantage of the “Zim safari specials” on offer.

My dessert of choice for visitors is Granny Lucy’s Coffee Ice-Cream, and I’m sharing her gorgeous recipe below. Lucy was actually my older sister’s mother-in-law, but she was fondly known as Granny Lucy to all of us.

Lucy Ball was one of the bravest ladies on earth. Hailing from England, she left school at sixteen to become a nurse. She “caught the boat” from Southampton in the fifties to become a “Sunshine Nurse” in the colonies, where she met her future husband John in Chipinge, Zimbabwe.

Lucy was never scared of anything it seemed – from nursing in bush clinics, to hitch-hiking, catching local buses, or chasing a train in a taxi. She would reach her destination and be of immense help to those in need – mainly new mothers.. my sister always relied on her calm but practical guidance with her new born babies.

Her five children, her many grand children and extended family, all have this very special (and easy) recipe in their best beloved recipe books.

Lucy and John Ball

It is indeed something that I’m forever grateful for. I’m a firm believer that favourite family recipes are for sharing. I think of her sweet nature every time I make and serve it. Thank you Granny Lucy.

One of Lucy’s daughters, Tempe, sent me this picture of her recipe – how lovely that she still has the original! I’ve adapted it to make a larger volume and it’s slightly less sweet.

From Tempe’s Recipe Book: Granny Lucy’s Coffee Ice-cream

GRANNY LUCY’S COFFEE ICE-CREAM

INGREDIENTS

1 litre cream

1 tin condensed milk

2 eggs, separated

6 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water

METHOD

Beat the cream until thick. Add condensed milk, egg yolks and cooled coffee liquid, and stir until combined. Beat egg whites until stiff and then fold into mixture – with a Jacarandell spatula of course! Pour into containers and freeze.

Note: I believe the packets of cream were 250 mls (2 packets would be 500 mls), so here I am doubling the cream content – but sometimes I use even more. It’s a personal choice on sweetness.

A perfect blend of bitter and sweet – Granny Lucy’s Coffee Ice-Cream

Make sure the cream is really thick before you add the other ingredients, but be careful not to beat it into butter!

A favourite way to end a meal is to serve this coffee ice-cream with a slice of warm pecan pie, topped with a lashing of farm cream. A decadent, perfect pudding!

I hope you get as much pleasure out of this delicious ice-cream as we all have!

Thanks to Tessa for the information and Tempe for the pictures.

For Jacarandell product enquires please email me on frandell@yoafrica.com

The Colours of Nature: Zimbabwe

We have recently been for a beautiful and memorable camping trip with special friends to Gonarezhou National Park in the East of Zimbabwe, meaning “Place of the Elephants.”

During the long drive through the incredible countryside and then into the true wilderness, I absorbed the amazing array of Spring colours. I started to write.

The Colours Of Nature
Zimbabwe

Green is the colour
Of unfurling buds
And tender stems
Of sweet new life

Blue is the colour
Of winter skies
Of hope eternal
And radiant joy

White is the colour
Of fresh blown clouds
Of cotton in fields
And cloth on girls

Bronze is the colour
Of winter leaves
Which cling to life
Then twist and fall

Grey is the colour
Of balancing rocks
Of branches bent
In August winds

Pink is the colour
Of the Sabi Star
A miracle of life
In dusty brown

Gold is the colour
Of the setting sun
Reflecting on water
As fish eagles cry

Red is the colour
Of moon through haze
As lions roar
And elephants drink

Black is the colour
Of the vast night sky
An inky orb
With sparkling stars

A myriad of colours:
The African Palette
Is now and forever
Etched in my soul.

Sumptuous Steak Sauce: from Jacarandell Farm to Table

Pouring milk on cereal, spreading butter on toast and slicing cheese should never be taken for granted!

From breeding, nurturing, and feeding the dairy cows to making sure they are healthy and happy, is a complex and time consuming business.

A peaceful scene – once the dairy work is over!

Getting up at 4.00am (not me I add hastily), milking the herd twice a day in between feeding, vet requirements, dairy repair and maintenance, and of course looking after our dairy staff. These are all necessary to produce milk, the raw, nutritious product used to make cream, butter and cheese.

We make cream here, but it’s not for sale – that would be another story. We had an old fashioned manual cream separator for the first twenty-five years of marriage – we found it at the local auction, fixed it up and it worked brilliantly.

The wooden handle was turned slowly for a good half an hour to separate the milk from the cream. It’s a complicated system of metal cones in a casing, which spin at an unbelievable speed to separate the cream from the milk. Within a day our cream is so thick, that it won’t pour out the bowl when turned upside down – and it is delicious.

An antique cream separator, similar to our original on the farm

Now we are blessed with an electric separator and it’s a matter of pressing a button, but there is still a lot of running around pouring liquid in and out of containers. A huge volume of milk is used to make a relatively small amount of cream.

Farm cream: thick and delicious

Once the cream has been in the fridge for a couple of days, I make butter. I ladle in about 600 ml of cream into my Magimix, turn it on, and within a couple of minutes the cream has turned into about 500g butter – it’s miraculous. Once the raw butter has been scraped out of the Magimix into a large bowl, I rinse and knead it under cold running water several times to get all the buttermilk out. Salt is then added, and when thoroughly mixed, it is spooned into suitable butter dishes.

Cleaning all the equipment is time consuming and quite painful to be honest. Butter making is something I end up doing after much procrastination … but I will not buy butter!

Beautiful butter.. note Mr Sibanda’s butter knife!

My step mum Pam gave me a wonderful recipe for a sauce for fillet years ago – I actually use it for any steak. It really is a winner – everyone loves it. It has plenty of cream in it, so it’s fairly decadent, but perfect for our situation here with cream and butter on tap. The addition of brandy and mustard makes a wicked combination!

SUMPTUOUS STEAK SAUCE

300 ml cream

4 bayleaves

1 large knob of butter

Salt & pepper

1 heaped teaspoon Dijon Mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

2 tablespoons brandy

Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Heat through and add brandy at the last moment. Pour over barbequed, fried or grilled steak. (Serves 4.)

The best idea for serving is to take the steak out of the pan, allow it to rest for a few minutes and cut it into strips. Place these onto a warm serving dish. The sauce is then mixed in with the steak juices in the pan, reheated, and finally drizzled over the steak strips. Sprinkle your favourite chopped herbs over this.

Sumptuous Steak Sauce

I use my small Sibanda Spoon to mix this wonderful combination of ingredients to make the most sumptuous steak sauce!

For Jacarandell product enquires please contact Frances on frandell@yoafrica.com

Fabulous Farmhouse Muesli: from Jacarandell Farm to Table

The year after university my twin sister and I shared a flat with our friend Penny, while we attempted a post grad course. Poor Penny – it must have been difficult living with twins who were not known for domesticity, nor were we the stay at home types – in fact our spontaneous “going out” plans probably drove her up the wall.

She used to make the best muesli. It was a big treat eating this delicious wholesome breakfast, normally feeling somewhat hungover and needing a healthy morning pick-me-up. We weren’t called the “nocturnal twins” for nothing by our long suffering family. Thank-you Penny… and sorry!

When I moved to the farm half my life time ago, I was unequipped for everything to do with farm life, having lived in Harare and Cape Town for many years prior. I knew I would miss my family and friends hugely and struggled with the concept of moving somewhere well, quieter.

A couple of weeks after our honeymoon, we moved to the farm. We drove from Harare to Bulawayo in our pick-up, with our small load of worldly goods. As we entered the “City of Kings”, we passed the not so pretty cement factory, surrounded by ugly scrubby thorn bush, coated in grey cement dust. Mark tried his best to console me.

A happy move from city to farm

It took a while to settle, but I had nothing to complain about in this beautiful valley, and it wasn’t long before some old friends came to stay.

Now I had to get my act together and attempt to be a hostess. What to make for breakfast, lunch and supper? For a start.. breakfasts. I tried to remember Penny’s muesli recipe, but failed – regretfully I hadn’t been very focused on much in Cape Town apart from some studying and many social activities.

The family here had a great recipe for muesli which was similar to Penny’s. So I used this and it was delicious.

Over the years I have adapted the recipe according to what you can get in our unpredictable country, and added a few extras. Here we often say “just faga” – meaning “just put.” I follow the basics, but throw in whatever special ingredients I can find.

So although it’s a challenge following this recipe exactly, here goes. I always use my special Sibanda spatula to mix up the ingredients. We have plenty of guests to stay (in non-Covid times) so this makes a generous quantity.

Mixing in the dried fruit after baking the oats mixture, with the wonderful
Sibanda Spatula!

FABULOUS FARMHOUSE MUESLI

1kg oats

2-3 cups chopped pecans, or a mixture of pecans, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts.

1 cup coconut

1-2 cups mixed seeds – sesame/pumpkin/sunflower/linseed

2 apples, grated

1-2 cups mixed raisins/sultanas

Half cup water and half cup oil mixed with 1 teaspoon mixed spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, and 1 tablespoon honey

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 (fan)

Heat and stir the oil, water, mixed spice, honey and vanilla essence in a small saucepan until combined and about to boil and cool slightly.

Mix all dry ingredients (except raisins/sultanas) and grated apple in a large bowl, and then stir in oil/water mixture and combine thoroughly.

Spoon mixture into a large baking tray and spread evenly, and place in the middle of oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring half way through so that all ingredients are baked through and golden brown.

Take out of oven and cool. Chop up raisins and sultanas and stir them in thoroughly. Allow to cool, and spoon mixture into containers.

I love this – sent by a friend during lockdown. This is how I view sharing recipes.

Serve with milk and farm cream or plain yoghurt with a drizzle of extra honey if desired.

Fabulous Farmhouse Muesli. Cereal bowl by Hippo Studios, Bulawayo.

What a way to start the day! I hope you try this recipe, share and enjoy!

For product enquires please contact Frances at Jacarandell African Carvings: frandell@yoafrica.com

Succulent Seville Marmalade – from Jacarandell Farm to Table

“Gran-Gran” who lived here in the fifties, sixties and seventies, planted some very special trees in our garden, and we are forever grateful for this legacy. The most spectacular has to be the exotic Tipuana Tipu (Brazilian Rosewood) planted at the end of our lawn, it’s myriad of branches forming the most stunning canopy against the backdrop of the Umguza River beyond.

It was planted about thirty metres away from the centuries old Vachellia Erioloba (Camel Thorn Tree) but now their branches magically touch. They form the route which the monkeys take to steal my carrots (see my last blog on spicy carrot cake).

Another lovely, enduring tree which Gran-Gran planted is the Seville orange next to the veggie garden. Much smaller of course compared to the gigantic Tipuana, but much loved.

GranGran’s Seville Orange Tree, 60 years old

It’s a family tradition to make Seville Orange Marmalade every winter. The tree is still producing copious quantities of this tangy citrus year in, year out. No matter what size the oranges grow to, and believe me, they vary – depending on how good or bad the rainy season has been – they are always perfect for producing marmalade, which all our families love.

Stunning Sevilles

Seville Oranges, which originated in Spain, coupled with the English tradition of toast and marmalade at breakfast … and here we are in Africa. The perfect storm for the best marmalade? My Dad loved his toast and marmalade at breakfast, and it was always made from Sevilles. He also seemed to have this treat after other meals – lunch or supper. We always laughed about this – I think he was actually addicted to it.

We picked 20 Seville oranges yesterday.  Hours later, we had squeezed juice, scraped out the pith and pips, and cut the orange peel into tiny slithers.  I then weighed the whole lot, and it was 2.35 times the actual recipe required for 4.5kgs marmalade.  I have just made 18 jars of lovely marmalade, 2 of which are double size. 

Once the mixture is bubbling away, the citrusy, sweet-sour fragrance fills the whole house and wafts out into the garden – it’s a special scent of clear Zimbabwean winter days. A bonus of this process is I actually get to find out how many jars I have in the store room and which lids belong to which jar. I then clean and sterilize them, a miracle in itself after their months of dark and dingy dormancy.

Seville Marmalade ready to decant into jars

The joy of the marmalade actually setting is real – after many hours of scraping pith, cutting rind, juicing, boiling and stirring, and finally adding the sugar for the fast boil – it’s sweetly satisfying to see that crease of the marmalade on the saucer and know that yes, it has set!

This is the recipe I use for SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE.

1.4 kg Seville oranges

Juice of 2 lemons

3.4 litres water

2.7 kg white sugar

Halve oranges, and squeeze out juice.  Scrape out membrane and pips, and place in a muslin bag. I use mutton cloth, tied up with string.

Cut the orange rind into thin slivers and place all ingredients (except sugar) into a large pot or preserving pan.

Bring to boil and simmer for 2 hours until peel is soft and liquid reduced by half.

Add sugar and simmer until dissolved.  Boil mixture rapidly for at least 15 minutes.  This is where I find that 15 minutes can become at least 30!  Test for a set (place a small blob onto a clean saucer, cool and push with your finger – if it “creases” it is set.)

Remove scum, stir and cool for 15-20 minutes, pour into sterilized jars, and seal.

The colour I like is somewhere between honey and terracotta – a beautiful “golden hour” colour.

Just bottled: Seville Orange Marmalade – the perfect honey/terracotta colour

I use my favourite Sibanda large wooden spoon to stir this fabulous mix of citrus, water and sugar.

It’s not as daunting as it seems. When I made my first batch nearly three decades ago, I couldn’t actually believe that I was grown up or competent enough to make marmalade. I was relieved therefore, that the process was really not that difficult – just very satisfying. Try it, you’ll be happy as the day is long.

A great way to stir marmalade: large Sibanda Spoon (far right)
Jacarandell Jam Spoon: a great way to serve marmalade

For Jacarandell product enquiries, please contact Frances on frandell@yoafrica.com

Spicy Carrot Cake: from Jacarandell Farm to Table

In all my years of being a farmer’s wife, I’ve battled to succeed in baking those light and fluffy sponge cakes, which friends seem to create with ease.

When a recipe optimistically asks one to “beat the sugar and butter until it is light and fluffy” I think – what planet are these people on? Who beats these two ingredients until they are light and fluffy? When I beat them together they are always turn out the opposite: heavy and thick.

Carrots growing happily (left)

I think back to a special birthday tea I went to some time ago. As the gorgeous chiffon cake was presented, tastefully adorned with “nude icing” and topped with an exquisite deep red rose, I wondered – “why, oh why can’t I do that?”

The answer is simple really. Don’t be in a rush and don’t over mix. I am always in a rush (why?) and always over mix. I beat the hell out of batter. I don’t know why but the list in my head of “things to do” gets longer when it should in fact be getting shorter, and as my mind races, my hands work harder.

A feathered friend on the farm

The kids have left home, there is nowhere to go due to this ghastly virus, and even travelling around Zim is a nightmare – it’s just so much easier to stay at home. No excuse then! Except that the truth is, I actually prefer a wholesome, textured, “out of the garden” cake – Spicy Carrot Cake.

Surely – nutritionally that is, it has to be so much better for you than that airy fairy sponge. I hope I’m right! Not that I don’t admire and adore a chiffon cake – I always will – but I won’t be that human who has baked it!

Fresh farm eggs.. a small oil on canvas I did a couple of years back

A fool-proof recipe which is very nutritious and delicious is this one, for a good old fashioned Carrot Cake. I found it on Pinterest and I’ve adapted it to add in my all time favourite nut – pecans, and I have added more spice and orange zest. Luckily for us, a friend near Harare grows fabulous pecan nuts and I have a good stock.

We have planted pecan trees recently – a big challenge due to the thriving colonies of resident white ants, but hopefully in a few years’ time we will be picking our own.

My veggie garden has a few constants – carrots, lettuces, leeks and spinach.  Otherwise it’s seasonal – and as it is now winter, the beetroots, peas, celery, onions, broccoli and cauliflower are coming on nicely. 

I digress – back to the carrots. They grow so easily, and are always plentiful in our garden all year round. We plant a row every 6 – 8 weeks to make sure that we always have a good supply.

The monkeys also appreciate them and we have a running battle trying to keep those pesky creatures out of the garden – they leap out of the Tipuana, into Camel Thorn tree, and jump merrily into the garden, stealing fists full of bright orange bounty, and disappearing as fast as they arrived. Mmmmmm …. back to the cake!

Monkeysroute: they jump across the branches of the Tipuana and Camel Thorn trees and into the veggie garden for carrot theft

Winter days lend themselves perfectly to a good slice of fresh carrot cake with that piping hot cup of tea.  And in summer it’s lovely to have a piece with some homemade lemonade – see my last blog for LUSCIOUS LEMONADE.

SPICY CARROT CAKE FROM JACARANDELL FARM TO TABLE

Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees C.

Using a Sibanda spatula, mix the following thoroughly in a large bowl:

2 CUPS SUGAR (1 white, 1 soft brown)

1 ¼ CUPS OIL

4 LARGE EGGS, whisked

Add:

3 CUPS GRATED CARROTS

2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)

Sift and add:

2 CUPS CAKE FLOUR, 2 TSP BAKING POWDER, 1 TSP SALT &

2.5 TSP MIXED SPICE

1 CUP FINELY CHOPPED PECAN NUTS

Fold dry ingredients in slowly.

Grease a large round cake tin and line with baking paper.  Pour your cake mixture in and bake for 40-50 minutes until slightly firm and golden – test with a skewer.

I normally make a simple lemon and sugar frosting (1/2 cup white castor sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons of boiling water and juice of one lemon. Once the cake is out of the oven and on a wire rack, drizzle the lemon and sugar mixture over the cake.

Serve on your favourite cake plate with some pretty nasturtiums on top. 

I made this cake recently for an anniversary tea – this time, instead of the frosting, I used icing sugar (1 ½ cups instead of the ½ cup of castor sugar) and and I sprinkled flaked almonds on top to make it extra special.

Spicy carrot cake topped with lemon icing and flaked almonds. The wooden ducks behind were carved by the late Njabulo of Jacarandell

I hope you give this delicious wholesome cake a try. For enquires regarding Jacarandell African Carvings, please contact Frances on frandell@yoafrica.com

Luscious Lemonade: from Jacarandell Farm to Table

This is a recipe which my friends often ask me for. The taste is exquisite – tangy and refreshing, with just a hint of sweetness. The zest is a very important part of this very easy, no fuss recipe! It’s ideal for any occasion, and tastes great with gin and soda.

Winter in Zimbabwe: warm sunny days and crisp cold nights

Here in Zimbabwe, it’s winter – and we are blessed with day after day of beautiful warm sunny days, and chilly nights. I love this time of the year – crisp and misty morning walks, the call of the long tailed shrike punctuating the still, warm days, and log fires at night.

Umguza River – misty in winter

This climate is ideally suited to citrus growing, and at this time of year, lemons, oranges and grapefruit are literally dripping off the trees.

Lovely lemons, ripe and juicy

Time to make Homemade Lemonade!

Luscious Lemonade: Recipe

4 cups white sugar
4 cups water
Zest of 4 lemons
4 cups pure squeezed lemon juice

Dissolve the sugar in the water in a large saucepan, stirring constantly with a Sibanda Spatula (not compulsory but many a friend agrees that it is of huge benefit!) Add the zest and bring to the boil for a few minutes. Pour in the lemon juice and stir, and just bring to the boil again for another two minutes max.

Do not boil the mixture for any longer – the taste will be spoilt and it will become syrupy and dark. This juice must be a fresh light lemony colour!

This should make about 2.5 litres of lemonade, so if you want less, just halve the recipe.

Cool, stir and strain the liquid into large jug or a bowl. Using a funnel, pour the strained juice into sterilized bottles and refrigerate.

The lemonade will last for a good two to three weeks. It also freezes very well, and it is so lovely to have a large stock in the freezer for the summer months ahead.

This is concentrated juice, so you must dilute to taste – about 1:6 lemon juice to water. Serve with ice and mint. It is absolutely delicious and so refreshing!

Fresh homemade lemonade. Jacarandell’s Ant Board is ideal for cutting lemons!

Have a lovely, healthy weekend.

Jacarandell enquires – please email me (Frances) at frandell@yoafrica.com

Still life “Farm Lemons” by Frances Randell

Tomato & basil soup with cheesy croutons: from Jacarandell Farm to Table

I think we are all in need of a “pick-me-up” at the moment. Let’s face it, 2020 has not been the best year so far! This soup will improve your mood, I just know it!

Living on a tomato farm makes this a “must have” for winter lunches. I make sure that I’ve got a good supply of frozen tomatoes for soups, stews, curries, vegetarian dishes, chilli sauce and so on, to see us through the winter once the tomato season is over. Fresh is best of course, and I’ve just used up the last of the crop to make this delicious tangy tomato and basil soup.

Basil is such a fragrant herb, and it is perfectly matched with tomatoes, which grow prolifically here in the Umguza Valley. With our warm climate and plentiful water, the herb garden is bursting with beautiful basil.

Many cooks take the seeds out of tomatoes for soups, but I don’t. Call me lazy, but those seeds do not bother me at all.

From the herb garden: gorgeous green chives, basil and parsley

To skin tomatoes, simply cut a shallow cross on each base, and pop them in boiling water for a minute. Once cool, the skins will peel off very easily.

Here is my recipe for this delicious soup – it will serve 6.

TOMATO & BASIL SOUP WITH CHEESY CROUTONS

Approx 20 ripe tomatoes

2 medium to large onions

1 teaspoon garlic

2 tablespoons sunflower oil or butter

1500 mls good chicken stock

A big handful of basil leaves, a few sprigs of parsley and a bunch of snipped chives

¼ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon chilli flakes

¼ teaspoon paprika

Skin the tomatoes. Fry the onions and garlic in sunflower oil or butter in a large saucepan.

Add the skinned tomatoes and stir, using Mr Sibanda’s Spatula. Add the stock and S&P, chilli and paprika and bring to the boil.

Simmer for at least half an hour until the liquid is reduced nicely. Add the basil leaves and parsley. Use a hand held blender to blend the ingredients, and simmer further if necessary to thicken up the soup. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Fry small squares of bread in oil to make croutons (I use half a slice per person), and grate a wedge of cheddar cheese. Serve the soup in a deep bowl, on a Jacarandell Oval Board (optional of course!)

Place grated cheese and croutons on the side, with a sprig of basil to pretty it all up. Swirl in a blob of cream and sprinkle some chopped parsley and chives on top.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this recipe. For any information on Jacarandell products, please drop me a line on frandell@yoafrica.com or comment below.

Happy winter thoughts from Jacarandell in Umguza, Zimbabwe!

Marvellous Mayo: from Jacarandell Farm to Table

There’s something about homemade mayo – thick, creamy and delicious, adding a special spark to lunches or snacks. It’s so easy to make, and adding some fresh herbs, a bit of heat and extra garlic, spices it up even more.

Yesterday we made homemade pizzas in our homemade farm pizza oven! This glorious winter weather calls for such an occasion. Before we got stuck into the pizzas I served carrot sticks with my marvellous mayo. The carrots had been pulled out of the veggie garden that morning. How delicious and nutritious!

This is my favourite mayo recipe, adapted to ensure top mayo flavour!

4 egg yolks, 5mls Dijon mustard, 30 mls white wine vinegar, 2 pinches cayenne pepper, 5mls crushed garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, freshly ground black pepper, bunch of fresh herbs: parsley, and thyme are my favourite! 500 mls sunflower oil.

Put all ingredients into your blender except the oil. Blend for a couple of minutes until herbs are chopped finely. Add the oil very slowly through the funnel until a thick mayo is produced.

This will make just over half a litre of mayo. If you want less, just halve this recipe. I always make this much, as it lasts in the fridge for a good week. It is delicious with salads, avo, cold chicken, toasted sandwiches and much more!

A rustic bowl, filled with mayo, along with Mr Sibanda’s mayo spoon will enhance any buffet table or family lunch. Enjoy!

Jacarandell Farm to Table.. functional art teaming up with delicious rustic nutrition!