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
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
1 Camembert cheese
1 Tbsp honey
4 thyme sprigs
- 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).
- 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
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
- 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
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)
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
- 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
1 packet tennis biscuits
50 g (1.8 oz) butter
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
- Crush the tennis biscuits into a fine powder.
- Rub in the butter.
- Put all the ingredients (except the espresso) in a mixer, and mix on high speed.
- The mixture should be a smooth paste.
- 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.
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)
- 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.
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