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Boeke | Books > Resensies | Reviews > English

Cook with 7de Laan will bring great delight to the lover of food and TV


Paul Murray - 2011-03-01

Title: Cook with 7de Laan
Compiler: Kerneels Breytenbach
Publisher: Human & Rousseau
ISBN: 9780798151672
Price: R212.50

Click here to buy a copy from Kalahari.net.

Viewers of the popular soapie 7de Laan on SABC2 can really feel at home with the cookbook Cook with 7de Laan and can reconstruct the dishes they see in this TV programme in the comfort of their own kitchens. The seven main actors from the series each share their special recipes with viewers/readers. All in all, the book contains 70 recipes from the seven main characters. Maria, Hilda, Matrone and Paula have seven recipes each; Vince has 14 recipes – seven for Snacks and seven for Salads; Charmaine also has 14 recipes – seven for Oppiekoffie and seven for Food at Home; and so does Lukas – seven for Breakfast and seven for Entertaining.

The foreword is written by Neville Meintjies and the book is indexed. The text is interactive, pics (top-grade), inserts, sayings/quotes, and of course nicely laid-out, easy-to-follow instructions for the recipes.

Neville Meintjies explains the origin of this lovely cookbook – the inspiration came from browsing in a New York book shop and seeing so many cookbooks. “What immediately struck me was that many recipe books revolve around a community.” He thought back to the community in 7de Laan, Hillside, Johannesburg, the place the soapie plays out, and felt it was time for a cookbook to reflect the same kind of creativity with which the characters do their acting. And then Neville sat down with Charmaine, over a plate of bobotie, to talk about the idea. The people of the Laan agreed to contribute their recipes and voila, we now have a cookbook with a difference! All praise must go to them for initiating and realising the project.

Let’s start with Hilda, always upbeat and spritely. When she started out she was by no means a chef. Gradually she got into the swing of things and now produces a real Hilda recipe, shortbread. It all started because she was shy of men! She felt shortbread was right for her girlfriends. Her date fingers are equally good. Oubaas came up with the idea one day when Hilda came home from the deli. He hinted at date fingers, and she produced. Since then he tends to refer to her as his little date pip. The adage “If there’s one thing that’s as plain as the nose on your face, it’s that the road to a man’s heart runs through his stomach” could not ring truer for Hilda, especially when she makes her most delectable cream puffs. Hilda’s recipes are mostly for teatime, but there are two delectable recipes for mealtimes, too – pork neck with prunes and apple juice and stuffed venison with bacon and avocado.

Matrone has a lot of didactic things to say and there’s no less of this in the way she describes her recipes. Looking at her you can see she loves testing out her recipes. Her milk tart reigns supreme and she has always been a great lover of this dish. As a maternity sister in Kokstad she used to make her very own milk tart and even won prizes for it. And she has a special secret in the way she prepares it – her very own puff pastry (p 30). Making Matrone’s milk tart will take a long time, but the time-honoured method has its rewards. Equally good is Matrone’s chicken pie. The true mark of a chicken pie is in the pastry. A great treat for Oom Peet from Maraisburg is Matrone’s chicken pie. Oom Peet initiated the idea of the chicken pie by rocking up one day with some chickens from his son’s farm near Naboomspruit. But in the end Oom Peet had a hard job deciding on what was Matrone’s best dish, chicken pie or her glazed sweet potatoes. The story eventually came out that Matrone lured him by adding peach leaves to the recipe, and from then on he much preferred her cooking to neighbouring Hettie Pieterse’s. Matrone’s run-up of dishes in the book is impressive but her koeksisters must take the cake. The syrup must be ice-cold, and ice-cold for Matrone means just that. Her koeksisters are legendary and have won numerous awards. Her Hertzoggies are equally delectable – the secret here lies in using young apricots which give the cookies their distinctive taste. The final of Matrone’s recipe is her award-winning De La Rey cake, named after the Boer War hero.

Vince, of course, is a real chef. He openly admires Jamie Oliver and Christopher Novelli. The publishers of Cook with 7de Laan should be hugely commended for the very professional way they have laid out the book, and for the 5-star photographs of the dishes and the selection of dishes themselves. Vince’s dishes are quite extraordinarily illustrated. Vince does not copy recipes, he invents his own. Originality for him is everything. Try his soy and chilli calamari – the secret is in the ketjap manis and sesame oil! Or the upside down tart, to be enjoyed with freshly made black filter coffee. Vince’s Aunt Issie taught him to find ways to enchant people, so he took to finding a new way of presenting a recipe. This led to his ice-cold tomato and sweet pepper soup which guests at functions can enjoy by sipping and experiencing something new. But to test Vince’s true art in cooking, try his Vietnamese ricepaper rolls covered in fish sauce. Equally good is his duck in crisp wonton cups, which he calls his “prize bites”.

Vince’s salads feature over 16 pages of pure delight, beautifully adorned with pictures and carefully explained recipes. The best of them all must surely be his roasted beef salad with walnut dressing (132). The caveat from Vince is, “Don’t forget to cut the steak into very thin slices.”

Charmaine runs the coffee shop, Oppiekoffie. She confirms the only reason people flock there is because of the great food available. For her there are no distant shores to where people flock when they dream – they will find their dreams come true right there in Oppiekoffie. Until now her recipes have been kept secret ... but with the arrival of Cook with 7de Laan she can share them with the readers. Scones, cakes and her lemon meringue pie are among her favourites, and when you behold her baked cheesecake beautifully photographed on the page of the book (74), you will think this person is seriously talented when it comes to baking. It’s not only cakes and pastries she is good at, for she also produces an exotic chicken salad. Once a man confessed to Charmaine he was actually head over heels in love with her chicken salad. Not surprising when you see how delectable it looks. The secret is in the orzo pasta, but if this is hard to obtain, simply use small pasta shells.

Breakfast with Lukas is a treat! How can anyone resist the crumpets with honey, cream, strawberries and nuts, all a culinary delight? As Lukas invites you to tuck into his crumpets and coffee, so you should. He will not disappoint. My favourite of all the recipes from Lukas is his eggs Benedict with creamy hollandaise. The name is from Lemuel Benedict, a Wall Street broker who requested the chef at the Waldorf to come up with a scrumptious breakfast. Hence were born eggs Benedict – the year was 1894. Some think the name comes from the Benedictine monks. No chance of that – simply too luxurious for monks. Lukas confesses he is a morning person, and prefers croissants with salmon, scrambled egg and blue cheese. Being a sufferer from ischemic heart disease myself I should probably go for the healthier option, but when you see the photograph of the eggs Benedict (87) it’s hard to spend time worrying about that. When in a hurry there is the breakfast in a glass and here’s the recipe for the health fanatic:

1 pineapple peeled and cut into cubes

1 mango peeled and cut into cubes

2 frozen bananas sliced

300 ml mixed fruit yogurt

250 ml muesli

45 ml honey

Fresh mint leaves.

Mix the pineapple, mango, bananas and yogurt in a food processor until the mixture is quite smooth. Pour into 4 glasses, ladle the muesli on top and drizzle with a bit of honey.

Garnish with mint leaves.

Paula starts her line-up with Christiaan’s choc-chip cookie cocktail, in deference to her first boyfriend, who taught her how to kiss properly. It’s left over to the reader and viewer to find out how she learnt her trade – hence the phrase she leaves us with: “figurez-vouz”! Paula cooks using her senses, almost as if she has a sixth sense. And when you behold the cocktails she produces, you will realise that’s very possible – choc nut martini; piña colada, mango daiquiri and many more. But her food dishes are equally attractive. Try her beetroot, potato and sweet potato chips for snacks, and more seriously, the stir-fried seafood with lemon grass. One of Paula’s beliefs led to this scrumptious dish, and that is that you cannot really sit down and enjoy a meal after a long day at the office and also slave over the cooking. So apply the KISS rule – keep it straight and simple. The same goes for the beef stir-fry. Hers has a bit of a bite to it.

Maria’s dishes are just to die for! They are more for winter. Try the flavoursome lamb and barley soup, but be sure to use lamb shanks, like Maria does. And use Italian parsley, because the Italians know about opera, says Maria. Her oxtail is a rare treat. The secret is to avoid fancy tricks, according to Maria. And the list from Moekie goes on ... her saddle of lamb; her steak and kidney pie and her sechu sakhoho (chicken stew). And to cap it all there’s leqebekoane (steamed mealie meal) to be served with fresh butter for the diner who wants to augment the portions. And to finish – oopsy daisies, they can’t go wrong as long as you lift the lid before the cooking time is up. Go to pages 148–9 to read more.

The book ends with some serious recipes from Charmaine, entitled Food at Home, and these include traditional South African meals such as bobotie and buttermilk pudding; and recipes from Lukas, who finishes off by entertaining the gourmandiser. Try his roasted pepper ostrich fillet or his elegant roulade stuffed with chicken and dried peaches. A favourite for non-meat-eaters is the fish over the coals, preferably young succulent fish or trout. To end off, the gooseberry tart and some freshly ground filter coffee is a nice way.

The book is fully indexed. It makes an excellent gift. It’s a 5-star cookbook, easy to use, nice to look at, with practical recipes that will bring great delight to the lover of food and TV.