Better latte than never

From gingerbread lattes to glazed gammon, here are some last-minute festive season recipes…

One of the countless things I’ve missed this year is eating out, and even more so, eating out at our lodges. There are seven official feeding times on an &Beyond safari and every… single… one… (from the safari snacks and mouth-watering meals, to the decadent desserts and turndown treats) is moreish (understatement).

Dangerous animals aside, the biggest, ever-present risk on safari is ‘lodge podge’. It’s unavoidable. If you’ve travelled to our lodges, you know the sheer guilt-free joy of tucking into every creation, because calories simply do not count when you’re on holiday. It’s one of the many highlights of travelling: indulging and feeling zero remorse for it.

Count blessings, not calories

So, even if you might not be travelling this December, before you switch those out-of-(home)-office replies on for the holidays, &Beyond Regional Executive Chef, Murray Weakley, has some last-minute festive season foodie inspiration to ensure you continue to indulge into the new year.

On Murray’s holiday menu: start with a baked camembert with red onion marmalade; then move onto either a slow-roasted leg of lamb with potatoes and salsa verde or a ginger and naartjie glazed gammon; follow that up with his irresistible white chocolate, espresso and cardamom cheesecake; and cap the feast off with a classic gingerbread latte.

As we bid a very fond farewell to a four-letter year, let’s also bid a temporary farewell to the quarantine diet and get festive in the kitchen. It’s been a tough year and we’ve all earned some well-deserved indulgence whether we’re home or away for the holidays. Bon appétit, for now, and bon voyage — hopefully — in the not-too-distant future.

Baked camembert with red onion marmalade, dried apricots, pistachios and melba toast

INGREDIENTS

Marmalade (makes 2 cups)

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 large red onions (~1 kg or 2 lb; thinly sliced)
¾ cup cane sugar
1 cup red wine
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
7-8 thyme sprigs (~1½ Tbsp; leaves picked)
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Camembert

1 Camembert cheese
1 Tbsp honey
4 thyme sprigs

METHOD

Marmalade

  • In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil for a minute over medium heat.
  • Add the onions and salt and cook for about 10 minutes, until translucent. Make sure to stir occasionally.
  • Add sugar, red wine, balsamic vinegar and thyme. Stir and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to low heat and let the mixture simmer until the jam becomes thick and almost all of the liquid is absorbed (about an hour). Mix occasionally.
  • Take off the heat and add freshly ground black pepper.
  • Chill, and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (even longer if you are strict and use only sterilised jars and clean silverware).

Camembert

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
  • Remove the Camembert from its plastic wrap and place on a baking tray.
  • Score the top of the Camembert in a crosshatch pattern.
  • Drizzle the honey onto the cheese and top with thyme sprigs.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, until the Camembert is golden and melted in the middle.
  • Remove the camembert from the tray and place on a plate.
  • Serve with onion marmalade, melba toast, chopped dried apricots and pistachio nuts.

Ginger beer & naartjie glazed gammon

INGREDIENTS

3 kg (105 oz) smoked boneless gammon
4 L ginger beer
5 naartjies (juice and zest)
1 onion (peeled and halved)
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
3 Tbsp brown sugar
6 cloves

METHOD

  • In a large pot, place the gammon, 3 litres of ginger beer, nartjie zest, onion, star anise, cloves and cinnamon.
  • Bring the pot to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for about 2½ hours.
  • Allow the gammon to cool slightly, and trim off the excess fat, leaving a small layer of fat behind.
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the remaining ginger beer, naartjie and the sugar until dissolved.
  • Bring to a boil then simmer until slightly thickened to form a glaze (about 5 minutes).
  • Place the gammon in a roasting tray and pour the glaze over it.
  • Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, basting it as you go.
  • Slice and serve.

Slow-roasted leg of lamb with potatoes and salsa verde

INGREDIENTS

1 medium leg of lamb (on the bone)
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 rosemary sprigs (leaves picked and chopped)
2 onions (peeled and cut into thick rings)
5 garlic cloves
10 medium potatoes (halved)

Salsa verde

2 Tbsp capers
½ punnet mint
½ punnet parsley
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
½ Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp olive oil
Juice ½ lemon

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 170°C / 340°F.
  • Place lamb on a board and slash fatty side well with a sharp knife. Rub over oil and chopped rosemary, then season.
  • Put onion slices and garlic in base of a roasting tin (just large enough to hold lamb).
  • Lay lamb on top (slashed side up) and cover tin with foil. Roast for 4 hours, removing foil for the last 45 minutes to brown. The lamb is ready when you can shred the meat off the bone with two forks (cook for longer if needed).
  • Transfer the lamb onto a board (reserve empty tin) and cover with foil while you make the salsa verde (the lamb can rest like this for up to 30 minutes).
  • If not too blackened, add roasted onions from the tin to the small bowl of a food processor and squeeze in any roasted garlic from the skins (discard skins).
  • Add remaining salsa verde ingredients and whiz to make a chunky sauce. Check seasoning.

White chocolate, espresso and cardamom cheesecake

INGREDIENTS

Base

1 packet tennis biscuits
50 g (1.8 oz) butter

Filling

1.1 kg (39 oz) cream cheese
180 g (6.3 oz) castor sugar
350 g (12 oz) white chocolate (melted)
5 cardamom pods (deseeded and ground)
2 shots espresso

METHOD

Base

  • Crush the tennis biscuits into a fine powder.
  • Rub in the butter.

Filling

  • Put all the ingredients (except the espresso) in a mixer, and mix on high speed.
  • The mixture should be a smooth paste.

To assemble

  • Grease a baking tin with butter or cooking spray.
  • Press the base into the bottom of the tin, about 5 mm thick and packed tightly.
  • Pour the filling onto the base until about 1.5 cm from the top of the tin.
  • Pour the espresso into the centre of the cake.
  • With a palette knife, ‘cut’ the espresso to the sides, creating a marbled, web effect on the top.
  • Place in the freezer for about 2 hours to set, then remove from freezer and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

Gingerbread latte

INGREDIENTS

1½ tsp ground ginger (plus extra for serving)
½ tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp soft brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
600 ml (20 oz) full cream milk
2 shots espresso (hot)

METHOD

  • Place the spices, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan, and simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the milk is warm. Do not let the milk boil!
  • With a milk frother, froth the milk until thick and creamy.
  • Pour the milk into a tall latte cup, holding back some of the foam.
  • Slowly pour the espresso down the side of the cup, allowing it to settle at the bottom.
  • Spoon the remaining foam into the cup, allowing it to rest on top of the milk.
  • Sift a little extra of the cinnamon powder onto the foam.

Happy holidays!

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