Exploring Thailand

Thailand – Cooking class with Wandee – Pakinakka Cooking school

My husband and I were fortunate to visit Thailand in April.  We fell in love with the culture, the sceneries, the first-class service and most of all the food!

We were supposed to stay in Khao Lak for 2 nights but ended up there for 5 days.

Wandee, the owner of Pakinakka Cooking school made the stay in Khao Lak one to remember.  What an experience.  She picked us up from our Villa in Khao Lak and took us to the Local Market where all the hotels, restaurants and locals buy their fresh food from.


You can find the most amazing fresh produce at the market, anything from seafood, meat, spices, and vegetables


Freshly made curry pastes


Early morning arrival; roundabout 4h00 from the fishermen


A very interesting fact is that the brinjal is not a vegetable, it’s a berry and related to a tomato


Thai Apple

After our market experience, we went to Wandee’s outdoor cooking school



The view…



We had a choice and decided to make our favourite dishes – Spring rolls, Prawn Pad Thai and Panang curry



Everything was well prepared and beautifully displayed


Prepping the spring rolls, Schalk was an absolute natural





Above, some of the ingredients for Pad Thai


Ingredients for the pad thai sauce:  palm sugar, fish sauce & tamarind paste


Pad Thai Sauce


Not to bad for a first try?


Pad Thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food, also a popular dish at local eateries in Thailand


One of our absolute favourites!!!!  Panang curry

The word “Panang” derived from the ancient Khmer language that was adopted by the Thai, meaning “cross” mostly referring to leg position, like sitting cross-legged (on the floor). In the old-time, there was a way of cooking grilled chicken by crossing the chicken’s legs and setting the chicken upright instead of halving the chicken open and cooking it on the grill. The chicken that sat cross-legs up on the grill would be bathed with a curry paste that contained ground roasted peanuts, in the paste, then mixed with coconut cream. It would be brushed with the same mixture over the whole cooking time on the grill. This is a dish called “Gai Panang” or “Chicken Panang”, due to the position of the chicken on the grill.

Later on, the method had been simplified by cutting the chicken into big pieces and cooking them in the curry, in the pot over the stove instead of over the grill. This is the origin of Panang curry.

Source:  www.highheelgourmet.com

I will recommend this experience to everyone that loves Thai cooking.  If your travels take you through Khao Lak get in touch with Wandee:  https://www.pakinnakacookingschool.com/

Happy travels & crazy cooking!!!!


boy’s night in

Boy’s Night In

Served with an ice cold beer, these flatbreads are perfect and simply delicious for your weekly boy’s night in.

Flatbreads are really easy to make with no ‘’nitty gritty’’ and can be made in advance and even frozen for your next rugby match.

Harissa can be bought from your supermarket or if you want to impress – follow the easy recipe below

For a twist:  Use flatbreads instead of bread the next time you make your famous ‘’braai broodjies’’.  Spread with basil pesto, thinly sliced tomato and mozzarella cheese and braai over medium heat.



Harissa recipe:

2                                          red peppers, roasted

2  tablespoons                  fresh coriander

1 teaspoon                         cumin seeds

1                                           red onion

2                                           garlic cloves

1 teaspoon                         red chilies, chopped with seeds

Olive oil


Blend all ingredients together and add olive oil until you get the consistency you desire.  Add more chilies if you want an extra kick.

Add Harissa to chicken sosaties and marinate for a few hours before braai time.  Harissa is also great to add to mayo for chicken sarmies


Flatbread recipe:

350g                    Self raising flour

1  teaspoon        Baking powder

350g                     Yogurt (any type, depending if you are on a diet or not )


Mix all ingredients together.  Leave to rest for 30 minutes and make into smaller balls.  Roll out with a rolling pin into thin pieces of bread.  Preheat chargrill pan, drizzle with oil and fry flatbreads for 5 minutes on each side.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add chopped garlic if you don’t mind the passion killer.

The yogurt gives it a lovely sour taste and adding lemon zest makes it even more zingy.



Pulled Lamb Flatbread method:

Spread the flatbreads with harissa paste and top it with pulled lamb.  Mix yogurt with a dash of lemon juice and zest and drizzle over lamb.  Drain chickpeas and fry in a little bit of olive oil and finish your flatbread off with thinly sliced red onion and a big handful of the freshest coriander you can find!

Easy, simple and delicious.  What more do you want…except an ice cold beer

Boys night.  SORTED

Food, Recipes

Date Night….

Splendid Salmon


If you are looking for an uncomplicated fool proof ‘’Date night’’ spectacular, this Salmon is for you!

Salmon is best prepared with only salt, black pepper and lemon.  This way you can enjoy and appreciate the freshness.


Pan fried Salmon ingredients:

  • Fillet Salmon

Sprinkle of salt, black pepper and paprika ( I prefer adding paprika to add a little extra colour)

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice


Pan fried Salmon method:

Heat pan with drizzle of olive oil to very hot.  Sprinkle salmon with salt, black pepper and paprika on both sides.  Fry skin side down first for 3 minutes and gently turn around and fry the other side for another 3 minutes.  Squeeze with fresh lemon juice.  Rest for 2 minutes.  Salmon is best served pink in the middle – so be careful not to overcook




The famous Salmon run takes place from September to November every year.  This happens when salmon migrates from the ocean and swim to upper rivers.  This means party time for eagles, grizzly bears and fisherman


The eggs of a female Salmon are referred to as ‘’ROE”



Black rice is very high in nutritional value and source of iron and antioxidants (bonus…and off course it looks sooo pretty )

Black rice ingredients:

½ cup                  Thai Black rice

5ml                       Salt

2 cups                  Water

65ml                     Hoison sauce


Black rice method:

Add black rice, salt and water to a pot and bring to the boil.  Boil for 10 minutes and reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes.  When rice is ready, add Hoison sauce and cook for another 3-4 minutes – only until all liquid and hoison sauce is absorbed

Garnish your perfectly cooked pan fried Salmon and Black rice with edible flowers and micro leaves




Blueberry Waffles


Forget about wacky Wednesday…bring on Waffle Wednesday

This crispy, warm, indulging, syrupy, dough heaven called a waffle is the underdog that needs some uplifting and appreciation

Thanks to my dad who won this cool waffle maker machine at a golf day lucky draw, and mom for the ‘’hand me down’’.  How cool is this heart shape waffles!!!!


Waffle ingredients:

250g                     Cake flour

7g                          Baking powder

20g                       White sugar

5g                          Salt

475ml                   Milk

2                            Eggs

30ml                     Oil

175g                     Dried Blueberries


Waffle Method:

Whisk milk and eggs together and add to dry ingredients using a whisk.  Ensure there is no lumps and add oil and dried blueberries.  Mix and rest for 5-10 minutes.

Heat your waffle maker and spray with ‘’cook and spray’’.  Scoop ¾ waffle mix into waffle maker and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden brown and crispy on the outside

Serve with Ice cream or whipped cream.  Top it, syrup it, sprinkle it.  Enjoy it.



Fresh blueberries can be used as a natural food colouring

The perfect fresh blueberry should be ‘’dusty’’ in colour






Heal the world….

“There Are Ways
To Get There
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
Make A Better Place…”

Michael Jackson

The song was released in 1991 on Michael Jackson’s album, Dangerous.  Out of all his hit singles, this was the song he valued most and was the proudest writing in his life time.  This may come as a cliché, and surely Michael did not come without controversy, but still one of the greatest songs of all time delivered by one of the greatest and unique artists in history.

Clara Hanekom, which this special edition of Lens & Ladle is featuring, was diagnosed with blood cancer on the 12th of April 2016.


Anja & Liza Mostert, was set to make a difference, with lots of fun!  They took up the kitchen to bake a radical cake for Clara.  The little ones from Cape Town were really amped, and wanted to get down & dirty without wasting time! … and a really special thought is that they have never met 3yr old Clara … wow!





The earliest archaeological evidence for wheat seeds crushed between simple millstones to make flour dates to 6000 BC.

















Research at Nihon University, Japan in 1990 revealed a number of different issues were important to Japanese housewives when deciding which eggs to buy; however, color was a distinct factor, with most Japanese housewives preferring the white color.








Several mixtures of cacao are described in ancient texts, for ceremonial or medicinal, as well as culinary, purposes.




















A special thanks to Gert & Wilma Mostert for your inspiring help to make this edition so fantastic.


Facts about Clara …

Born:                                3 October 2012

Parents:                            Nikki & Olivea Hanekom

Hobbies:                           Love telling & reading stories, painting, baking mud cakes, colouring books


Medical update: Clara is free of cancer cells and in remission at the moment, but she still needs to continue her program.  She is in phase 3 and needs to go through 1 more phase, then two year on a maintenance phase where blood samples and chemo therapy will still be a reality.  In 5 years from now, with lots of prayers, she will have a normal life, just like her friends.

Updates: http://www.facebook.com/Gebedsgroep-vir-Clara-Hanekom-1141869089177473/


Olivea, co-creator of Lens & Ladle, together with her husband, Nikki, still needs every prayer, not just for Clara, but for all her sick friends all over the world.


Don’t Skip A Beat



no age

or beauty



no  rich

or  poor



no religion

or race



no straight

or gay



no boundary

or reason



no distance

or time


knows only

the rapid beating

of a giving heart sublime

Copyright © Charmaine Chircop


The Red Kitchen

A year ago I’ve discovered the multi-talented and dynamic Andrea on the internet.  A first for me… painting on biscuits?!  I started following her on social media, and saw her ‘Alice in wonderland’ collection.  It literally took my breathe away!  I’ve decided, we need to know more about The Red Kitchen.  I ordered the ‘Rock a Roll’ Biscuits for my husband’s birthday and not only was it so beautiful, but also brilliantly delicious!!!!!

Andrea was kind enough to let me into her space to document her process.  What an amazing experience.  Thank you Andrea!  Do yourself a favour and follow her on facebook. You will be simply loving it!! 





Q:  Where did it all began?

A:  I started baking from a very early age- I have a sweet tooth and my mom wasn’t the greatest baker then so I took over. 6 years ago a friend of mine gave me 2 cookie cutters from England (teacup and a teapot) That was when I started baking cookies and teaching myself how to ice and decorate them.


Q:  Who inspired you to create and follow your ambitions?

A:  I first watched a YouTube tutorial by SweetAmbs and was hooked but her style is very elegant and I wanted something else, I then found a cookier also from America called Arty McGoo, she changed everything for me as she paints on cookies. When I discovered I could use my art background together with my Chef’s diploma, my cookie world suddenly seemed endless.

My mom, Vicki Thomas, is an award winning internationally known botanical artist and she gave me a book about Chinese brush painting techniques. This style works incredibly well for cookies as it’s all about simple brush strokes and water colours. My mom definitely inspired my early cookie designs.  My designs now are influence predominantly from nature, artworks and textile design.



Q:  What did you do before you started with ‘The Red Kitchen’?

A:  I worked in the beauty industry as a rep for a cosmetic company.


Q:  Tell us more about your chickens….?

A:  Ah, my really silly pleasure!  I got my first 3 bantam chickens last year (Poached, Scrambled and Fried. Scrambled turned out to be a rooster so he became Roast and was roasted for dinner one night ) I now have another very beautiful rooster,  Roosten Bieber and bossy boots Cupcake as well as a new chick (who gets a name once we know gender) I love my chickens, they follow me round the garden and eat from my hand and don’t mind if I pick them up for a cuddle.




Q:  Are you the first person,…or only, in Cape Town painting on biscuits?

A:  No, there are a few others I know of- Roxanne Floquet was probably the first, then me and Nessie Peevie (the Cake Witch) and the owner of Creative Cakepops. But I have no facts to prove this, only what I have seen on social media. I am pretty sure that they only do it occasionally as accompaniments to their cake orders whereas I tend to do it more often and with a far greater variety.


Q:  The most challenging request by a client?

A:  3 spring to mind… The first time I was asked to do the Blue Willow pattern made me really excited and rather terrified as Blue Willow is intricate, precise and iconic.

Another was a set for a client’s best friend’s 40’th birthday. I painted each family member and their pets on cookies as well as a vintage bike, handbag, etc. Portrait painting is tough but on a 6cm edible canvass…

The other was a set for a North African hip hop DJ- the brief was complex as the client wanted me to incorporate a lot of ideas into the set and I had to find ways to make it all work together. I used Vintage Hip Hop posters as inspiration to make the set become a cohesive design. I was thrilled with the end result.


Q:  Your 2 most popular requests?

A:   Blue Willow and Star Wars.


Q:  What is your secret for for a good shortbread?

A:  The trick with cookies and baking actually is to start with great ingredients, a good recipe and control to stick to the recipe. Once you have mastered the basic techniques then by all means experiment. Baking is a science. My sugar cookie dough is same quantities butter and sugar with double the quantity flour; it makes stiff pliable dough that doesn’t spread when baking.


Q:   Are there any new things you would like to explore in the world of baking? Or any new ventures for ‘The Red Kitchen’ in the future?

A:    I want to experiment more with 3D cookies and eventually move into 3d cookie sculptures. My dream is to open up a cookie boutique with facilities for teaching and parties. A how to Cookie decorating book for South Africans, is also something I want to embark on.


C is for cookie and cookie is for me – the cookie monster






























There is only one real happiness in life, and that is the happiness of creating – Frederick Delius


Food, Recipes

The Daily


Time to kick 2016 off with an Epic BBQ Pulled Pork wrap

Last year smoking of meat and vegetables, smoked flavours, home brewed beer and sriracha sauce took the world by storm…this year it is even going to get bigger and wilder!


BBQ sauce ingredients:

2 tbsp                   Olive oil

1 tsp                     Cumin seeds

2 tbsp                   Fennel seeds

2 tbsp                   Smoked paprika

200g                     Brown sugar

200g                     Tomato sauce

2 tbsp                   Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp                   Lemon juice

100ml                   Chutney

1 tsp                     Lemon zest

2 cloves               Garlic, chopped fine



Heat olive oil and fry cumin seeds, fennel seeds and smoked paprika for a few minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.  When you see the bbq sauce going all sticky and dark brown in colour – you know you are on the right track.

To prepare the Pulled Pork:  Rub pork shoulder (bone in) with salt, pepper and paprika. Roast for 1 hour at 250°C until it forms a black ‘’bark’’ (this is the pork rind that is almost burnt).  Don’t be afraid or panic.  Your dinner is not spoiled!  The ‘’bark’’ is what keeps all the love juices from the pork inside and makes the meat succcccculent.  Reduce your heat to 90°C and roast for another 6 hours. Remove from oven and pour 1 cider over and roast for another 2 hours.  Remove the ‘’bark’’ and pull your pork apart with a fork.  Yes a fork – that’s how soft and succulent it will be. When it is cooled down – mix in some bbq sauce


To assemble the bbq pork wrap:  Top with coleslaw, pulled pork and mayonnaise mixed with Sriracha sauce.


Sriracha – type of hot sauce or chili sauce made from paste of chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt




Another few trends to take 2016 by storm……

Artisan ice cream



Watch this space – there is much more coming your way!



















Food, Recipes

Sweet Spring



This very energetic couple met years ago when Jana’s ‘’volla’’ decided not to start on a rainy day in Cape town. The pound was calling and they decided to move to London to explore the flip side. After living in London for 8 years it was time to say goodbye to the underground, rides on the red bus, have their last sip of Starbucks coffee, last stroll along the Thames River, wave their last wave to the Queen and return to sunny South Africa.

When you enter their beautiful farm cottage you walk into a wall of memories with photographs of all their travels over the world.   Antique furniture welcomes you into their home and the smell of freshly brewed coffee which is right up my ally.

Jana’s style is simple yet sophisticated with a fun flair here and there. Her passion for good food and produce are quickly noted and you can see…this girl loves cooking and entertaining…and she does not hold back!

The picturesque of blossoming trees, dust roads and perfect blue sky screams the start of spring! We could not have asked for a better setting.



It Must Be Spring

Hush, Can you hear it?

The rustling in the grass,

Bringing you the welcome news Winter’s day is past.

Soft, Can you feel it?

The warm caressing breeze, Telling you the sticky buds Are bursting on the trees.

Look, Can you see them?

The primrose in the lane, Now you must believe it – Spring is here again.



Beetroot & Mint juice

For all my vegetable juices, I use a Masticating juicer to get the most vitamins and minerals out of the vegetables


6 -7                         Fresh Raw Beetroots (washed and peeled)

Fresh Ginger (about a 2cm piece)

Handfull               Fresh Mint

1                              Ripe Pear

1                              Whole lemon (skin and all)


Simply cut all the ingredients into chucks and juice…. The great thing about any juice is you don’t have to follow a recipe. You can add as many or as little fresh ginger and fresh mint according to taste.  The sweetness of the beetroot and the tanginess of the fresh lemon is the best combination.

Try to serve immediately and enjoy!


If your hands become stained during preparation and cooking beetroot, rub some lemon juice over them to help remove the colour


Beetroot’s deep, overpoweringly red juice has earned it the reputation as the most bossy of vegetables…..


Other ideas for fresh beetroot apart from roasting, baking & juicing:

Beetroot greens can be used in salads in place of lettuce or spinach leaves…

Beetroot loves strong and salty partners – think smoked fish, goats cheese and capers…

Beetroot & Chocolate cake…

Beetroot with melted brie on toast






Drinking Coffee can help you burn fat!!  Studies have shown that drinking caffeine can increase your metabolism 3 to 11%. It’s one of the few chemicals that can actually help with fat burning, so might as well drink up!  Once a coffee-lover made a world record of consuming coffee. He drank 82 cups of coffee in 7 consecutive hours. WOW!!


Homemade Granola

I like to make a big batch at a time, as you can keep it for long and you will see, it is so much nicer than normal store-bought granola that before you know it, it will be all gone.


8 cups                   Raw rolled oats

½ cup                   Wheat germ

1 ½ cup                Sunflower seeds

½ cup                   Flaxseed

2 cups                   Desiccated coconut

2 teaspoons         Fine Cinnamon

1 Handfull           Mixed raw nuts

¾ cup                  Honey

2 tps                     Vanilla

3 tbsp                  Canola oil

1 tbsp                   Water

1 Handful           Dried cranberries/raisins



Mix all the dry ingredients together (apart from the raisins/cranberries). Heat the honey, vanilla, oil and water until it boiling hot and drizzle over the dry ingredients. I always add extra honey as this recipe doesn’t contain any sugar. Bake at about 180 degrees C in a shallow baking dish until the colour change and the oats becomes crispy. Remember to stir every now and then ensuring that the whole batch gets light brown and crispy.Once you think the granola is nearly ready add the raisins or cranberries for the last 15 minutes.



The first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere is the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere


Children actually grow faster in the spring than during other times of the year.i According to a Facebook study, couples are most likely to break up in the spring and two weeks before Christmas. The lowest breakup time was Christmas Day and from August through October




Savoury French Toast with feta & thyme


1                              Stale French loaf – sliced

3                              Eggs

100g                       Crumbed feta

Fresh Thyme

Freshly ground salt & pepper

1 knob                     Butter



Simply whisk the egg, add some thyme leaves, salt and pepper and soak the bread on both sizes for a few minutes until nice and soggy. In the meantime, get your pan nice and hot with some melted butter.

Pan-fry the toast until lightly browned on both sides for about 3 minutes on each side.

Once the French toast is ready, scatter with lots of feta and some more thyme leaves. The cold feta cheese will start to melt on the warm French toast making it soft and adding a salty savoury flavour to the hot French toast. To make the French toast even more Moorish, scatter with chopped olives and sundried tomatoes.



In France, French Toast is often called pain perdu, or “lost bread.” French bread goes stale and hard, or is “lost” quite quickly, but a few hundred years ago, poor French families had to use it up anyway. They soaked their stale bread in eggs and milk before frying, making it easier to chew.



Bread is probably the one food eaten by people of every race, culture and religion….

Murphy’s Law dictates that buttered bread will always land buttered-side down….

Breaking bread is a universal sign of peace….






During the spring, birds are more vocal as they sing to attract mates and warn away rivals




Jana & Jaco Lategan