Saluting Prince Albert: Karoo salad, homemade ginger beer and granadilla and rooibos cordial

Swartberg pass on a scorching afternoon

Swartberg pass on a scorching afternoon

Back from Prince Albert and 5 weeks of working on the new reality cooking competition Kokkedoor on SA’s channel Kyknet.  Yes it’s a reality programme and no, I will not give away any secrets about the challenges or the contestants.  What I can however say is that it is quite a challenge to shoot a cooking programme in the middle of the Karoo.  Together with the heat, the distance from larger cities and the mere fact that you can’t get every ingredient your heart desires, makes it challenging to be heading up the Culinary department on a show of this nature.

Kokkedoor sign (640x586)

However, I didn’t just lose weight, but it also made me look at finding alternative solutions for the challenges we had in the kitchen. There are so many ways to skin a cat or rather, put a recipe together.  Ask the contestants and the culinary department.  For all in the culinary department, it was an exercise of the grey matter (and the muscles). But, but just when you thought you had no solution, you saw a sunrise or a Karoo view or met another local resident who could help you.

View 2 (640x321)

Everyday surprised you more in some or other way.  The colours in the Karoo never looked the same during the same time of the day.  Walking off the set, this is just one of the views you had and it truly never looked the same.  All involved will have to agree with me that it was inspirational in some or other way.   And on other times you got inspiration from what the contestants were doing or some of the local people that you met, arriving with something from their pantry or garden to share.

It became something of an improvisation at times to be able to either; get something to the town or to find something alternative that can do the same job.  That’s how I think one should look at recipes.  There’s always another way to make it, or something that can be done if you don’t have something.  And above all, your mood plays a role in what ingredient you will be adding for the next time.

While in Prince Albert, available ingredients determined what we made when some of us got together to let our hair down between the early mornings and late nights on set.

One of these I would say was rather more enjoyed the next morning, served ice cold with some ice;  a granadilla, rooibos and mint cordial.

Prickly pear 2 (640x480)

One of the ingredients I can only associate with the Karoo and some painful experiences on the farm, is the prickly pear.  Cleaned and eaten ice cold, it’s absolutely divine.  I had a fabulous woman who organised the fresh figs and prickly pears for me.  The latter cleaned, as we had the opportunity to go and pick it ourselves.  However, it is an art to get these prickly fellas from its even more prickly home.

So I opted for the capitalist and less entrepreneurial way of doing it, buy it from someone that cleans and packs it for us.  These fellows did go down a treat though.

With these babies freely available to buy, I made a refreshing salad that also included one other local heroes from the area; the Parma Prince (Gay’s Guernsey Dairy’s parmesan style cheese).

My Karoo salad – dedicated to a relaxed evening in Prince Albert

Karoo salad (640x368)

Dressing – please excuse the lack of quantities, but use your taste buds to make sure the balance is perfect.

Extra virgin olive oil (approx. 45 ml)

White wine vinegar (approx. 15/30 ml)

Dried mixed herbs (approx. 30 ml) (I’m not a great fan of the pre-mixed herbs, but this just worked with the salad.)


2 handfuls of lettuce leaves (of your choice)

2 oranges, peeled and sliced (not quite Karoo, but I had some that had to be used)

5 prickly pears, peeled and sliced

1 cup (250 ml) Parma Prince, shaved (alternatively use good Parmesan cheese)

½ cup (125 ml) pitted green olives

1 spring onion, thinly sliced

Make the dressing first, by combining the ingredients, mixing it well and let it stand to marry.

(TIP to simplify and take messy out of salad dressing:   add the dressing ingredients to a bottle with a screw top that seals properly, close it and shake until everything is mixed.  It ensures that it’s well mixed and is less messy.)

To make the salad, simply layer everything; starting with the salad leaves then finish off with the cheese, olives and spring onion.

Serve the dressing on the side.

I know you can buy cordials and all shapes and sizes of juice possible.  However, if you make this once, you’ll be stuck on it.  It is so simple and you can make your own flavours as you go along and as you have things available in the kitchen.

Granadilla, rooibos and mint cordial

granadillas (640x440)

3 cups (750 ml) water

1 ¼ cup (310 ml) white sugar

6 granadillas, seeds removed (approx. ¾ cups)

3 sprigs of fresh mint

2 lemon’s juice (approx. 90 ml)

6 rooibos teabags

Place the water and sugar in a saucepan and heat the mixture over low to medium heat to let the sugar dissolve.

When the sugar has dissolved, add the granadilla flesh and seeds, the mint sprigs, the lemon juice and the 6 teabags.

Bring all of this to the boil.  Let it simmer for 8 – 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let the whole mixture cool down together.  This way the flavours will infuse more into the cordial.

When it’s cooled down, strain through a fine sieve or even better a muslin cloth, place in bottles, seal and refrigerate.

To serve, simply add a dash of the cordial to a glass (to your sweetness) and top up with either sparkling mineral water or soda water.  Add some ice and a sprig of mint.

Homemade ginger beer – nothing as refreshing when it’s 45 °C in the shade

ginger beer (610x640)

18 g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

10 ml whole dried ginger, finely ground (use a spice grinder)

4.5 litres water

500 ml sugar

1 sachet (10g)/1 T (15 ml) dried instant yeast

5 ml (1 t) white sugar

1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water

1/2 cup (125 ml) seedless raisins

(You can also add slices of lemon to it.)

Add the fresh, dried ginger, water and sugar to a large saucepan.

Heat the mixture over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar.

Remove from the heat, pour into an enamel bucket or container and let it cool down to lukewarm.

Add the yeast, 5 ml of sugar and cup of lukewarm water to a jug and let it stand for 5 – 10 minutes.

Once the sugar water mixture is lukewarm, add the yeast mixture and the raisins.

Cover this loosely with a cloth and let it stand for 24 hours in a safe place.

Once it’s done, pour into bottles, leave quite a bit of headspace and close the bottles.

Let it stand for 2 to 3 days till before you use it.  The longer it stands the better it tastes.

And remember, it has a bit of a kick, so don’t serve to your children or non-alcoholic drinking friends.

Max really happy (488x640)

Unfortunately the dachsies could not join the 5 weeks,due to the hours I worked. Here is a sad Max. However he is now happy again and almost lost his voice in the process of greeting.


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