Rebel Minestrone

This soup recipe is an absolute winner for any time of the year.  This is based on an authentic Minestrone soup, BUT, with a twist.  And who does not like meat in soup?

The soup can be served with bread or a dollop of full cream yogurt on top or lots of fresh Herbs.

Recipe for Meat

50ml, good oil

4 pieces Beef Short rib

Salt and pepper to season

Method:  Heat oil and add the short rib with salt and pepper.  Cook till soft (you might need some good wine and music for this because it takes a while, 1 hour give, or take.  Once cooked and cooled down slightly, shred into small chunks.  There should be some stock left in your pot.  You can also add this when adding the water.

Recipe for Rebel Minestrone :

60ml, good oil

Leeks, sliced

1 Onion, chopped into small chunks

2 Carrots, chopped into small chunks

2 stalks Celery, chopped into small chunks

1 Red pepper, chopped into small chunks

1 tablespoon, chopped garlic

1 tin Good Italian chopped tomato

500ml Water

Salt and pepper to taste

1 can Beans (this recipe is open for any suggestions, whatever you prefer. Some like Kidney, others like White, and the rest settles for Black Beans)


Heat oil and add leeks, onion, carrots, and celery.  Fry until soft, for about 15 minutes on low heat.  Add red pepper and garlic and fry for 5 minutes at high heat.  Add chopped tomato, water, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer, gentle heat for 20 minutes.  Now add the shredded meat and beans and simmer for another 20 minutes.  If at this stage your soup is too thick, add some more water.  If too thin, reduce a little more.  Sometimes tinned tomatoes could be slightly acidic/ sour, if this is the case, add a teaspoon of sugar.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is not putting it into a fruit salad


Rock on Rice




The Philippines is defined by its emerald rice fields, thousands of palm trees, clear waters, millions of ‘’happy go lucky’’ dogs on the beach, giant swimming tortoises, the most extraordinary waterfalls, beautiful sunsets, best beer and always smiling people.   And cups and cups of rice.

The Philippines loves sticks with meat or fish on the BBQ and served with rice and fresh fruit.  The restaurant serves more a combination of Asian influences of neighborhood countries, especially North Korea.

During my travels to the Philippines, I got reminded again on how versatile a simple ingredient such as rice can be.  There are endless combinations and recipes to try and perfect.  Each restaurant we visited offered ‘’bottomless’’ rice.  Perfectly steamed, sticky and delicious.

This reminded me of one of my favourite rice dishes I got taught to make in Bali.  Nasi Goreng.   Fried rice with cabbage, carrots, and chicken.  Topped with a perfectly round fried egg.



Interesting facts about rice:

Rice can last for years unless it’s brown- white rice can last up to 10 years in your cupboard

Rice needs a lot of water to grow – Rice cultivations utilise about 5,000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of rice.


3 tablespoons Canola oil

  • onion, finely chopped
  • carrot, finely grated

4     chicken breasts, cut into 1cm blocks

  • cups basmati rice
  • cup white cabbage, finely sliced
  • cups water

1 tablespoon, green chilies, finely chopped

½ tablespoon ginger, finely chopped

½ tablespoon garlic, finely chopped

50ml Soya sauce


This will literally only take you 20 mins after work.

In a wok pan:  Heat the canola oil.  Add onion and carrots and fry for 5 minutes.  Just to get the colour going. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Heat on full and make sure you get them nice and golden brown.  Add your rice and fry for another 5 minutes.  Add white cabbage and mix through.  Now start adding your water, little by little until your rice is just cooked.  The rice still needs some resistance to the bite.   Add rest of the ingredients and give it about 5 more minutes in the wok and then you are ready to rock and roll.

To serve:  Dish on a plate and topped with a perfect fried egg.  Sprinkle with fresh coriander or chopped spring onion.




Viva Italy

I think of Italy. I think of small cars, lots of traffic circles, the coast of Sicily, Tuscany, Olive trees, Colosseum, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Amalfi coast, old men with mustaches, tall sexy Italian girls and grumpy old grannies with lots of wrinkles … making pizza and screaming orders!  Yeah!

Back to reality …. in a beautiful space in Parow North, Cape Town, we pretended to be in Italy for a momento, … while our Italian Stallions were playing outside with the Bambino’s!

The dish we made consist of …, lots of fresh ingredients put together to create the ultimate Italian masterpiece that even Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo would be proud of.  Capiche!






Fresh Homemade Pasta (Jamie Oliver’s basic fresh egg pasta)


6 Large Eggs

600 g Flour


Put the flour in a large wide bowl.  Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it.  Beat the eggs with a fork until it’s smooth.  Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined.

Knead the pieces together until it is a big smooth piece of dough.  Now you need to start kneading!!!  This is no joke…. I have new respect for the Italians doing this the old fashion way without the Kitchen Aid or Kenwood.  I am seriously saving up for one!  You will know when it is ready – smooth and silky.  It took me about 5 to 7 minutes to knead.  Wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge to let it rest for half an hour.

I like to use a pasta machine, it’s a comfort zone thing.  Dust your work surface with some flour, take a piece of pasta dough and press it out flat with your fingertips. Set the pasta machine at its widest setting – and roll the piece of pasta dough through it. Lightly dust the pasta with flour if it sticks at all.

Every time you just click one number down and roll the dough through the machine until you reached the number one setting. Now the dough should be nice and thin. Then you will use the spaghetti setting.  Just keep the flour close to dust the pasta so it doesn’t stick together.  You can either hang it, but I just lay it on a piece of baking sheet.

I just love this recipe!!!!  So easy and very delicious!







Fresco Herb Pesto


30g                       Fresh Spinach (swiss chard or baby)

1                            Clove garlic

30g                       Fresh basil leaves

1                            A hand full of Almonds, roasted & skin on

30g                       Fresh coriander leaves

2                            Fresh chilies, with pips (red or green- depending on your guts)

A sprinkle of salt and pepper & squeeze of lemon juice

250ml                   Olive oil



What I really love about this pesto is that you can literally get rid of all your ‘’not so fresh looking ‘’ herbs in your fridge.  You don’t have to stick with the herbs as mentioned above.  You can mix and match what you have.  If you add mint, you can serve this with middle eastern flavours.  Adding Rosemary/ Thyme can be lovely to serve with steak/ pork chops.

The method is basically to mix everything together until it looks like a pesto. This is great to keep in the freezer and can last up to about 3 months.  Don’t get a fright if the pesto ‘’sets’’ in the fridge – it is only because the olive oil solidifies below 6 degrees.  Just leave it outside for 20 minutes or mix with hot pasta or dish on top of something hot.


Pomodoro sauce


35ml                     Olive oil

Onion, finely chopped

Cloves garlic, finely chopped

20g                       Tomato paste

15g                       Brown sugar

10g                       Salt

2g                          Black pepper

100ml                   Water

2                            Cans Chopped tomato

1                            Tablespoon cake flour mixed with water to form a paste

50ml                     Cream


Heat olive oil in a pot and add onions.  Fry until cooked and caramelized.  Add garlic, tomato paste, sugar, salt, and black pepper and fry on medium heat for another 10 minutes.  Add water and chopped tomato and simmer at low heat for 20 minutes.  Add flour mix (this is only to thicken) and cream.  Cook for another minute (only for the starch to cook).








The place of calm & reflection… a few kilometers away from Vermaaklikheid on a snaky gravel road,

and … welcome back to the spirit of PUNTJIE

 As die stilte loer om elke draai

En die dagbreek soek ‘n pierewaai

Want jy skyn die lig Vermaaklikheid,… rondom my

Die een wat deur my hart in kruip,… somber vry

Soetmelk – ‘Vermaaklikheid’

IMG_8561 - Copy

Our ‘going nowhere slowly’ place, a strict commitment to peace & tranquility.



Carrot & Cabbage crunch


1 cup                    Shredded cabbage, green or purple,

depending on your mood

1 cup                    Fresh carrots

1 cup                    Good quality mayonnaise

Sprinkle salt and pepper



Mix all ingredients together.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Adding a combination of purple and green cabbage can really improve the visual.  Adding Chinese cabbage will take it to a whole new level.  Your carrots need to be really fresh – rather pay more and get it crisp!  If you are making something with an Asian feel – add half a teaspoon of peanut butter and fresh chopped chili to your mayo.


Teezing Tzatziki


1 cup                    Sour cream

1 cup                    Greek yogurt

1 cup                    Cucumber – cut into small blocks

1 clove                 Garlic, chopped up

Squeeze of lemon

Fresh chopped mint and parsley

Fresh chopped red chili, with seeds


Mix together.  This can last up to 3 days in the fridge before it starts to go a little ‘’watery’’.  You can remove the seeds in the cucumber if you want to – up to you! All the seeds do is it makes it more watery.  This tzatziki is great with everything, even burgers.  Grilled chicken, tzatziki, sundried tomato.  (Your mouth is already in Greece) Garnish with chopped mint, parsley, and red chili





Butternut, Cauli & Chickpea salad


1 Medium sized butternut, cut into cubes

1 head Cauliflower

1 can Chickpeas, drained

1 Onion sliced into wedges

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Cup cooked wholewheat couscous


Cook Butternut until soft.  (do not overcook, otherwise, your salad will be very mushy).  In a pan – heat some olive oil and add cauliflower.  Fry on low heat for about 5 minutes until half cooked.  Remove from the pan and keep aside until you are ready to assemble your masterpiece.

In the same pan – add another dash of olive oil and add spices.  Fry for 5 minutes and add drained chickpeas.  Fry for 2 minutes and remove from pan.  Add this to your cauliflower and butternut family.

In the same pan (yes the same ) – add 3 tablespoons of canola oil and add onion.  Fry on low heat for 20 minutes until soft and caramelized

Now to assemble your masterpiece:  gently mix all ingredients together – keep some of the chickpeas aside and garnish on top with LOADS of fresh coriander.








Fish and Chips



Fish and Chips


This is not actually a method…but rather a few tips.   Different strokes for different folks.

  1. The person cleaning the fish needs to know what he or she is doing, otherwise, you waste a lot of this precious jewel from the ocean
  2. Sharp knife is key – invest
  3. ‘’Coating’’ the fish can be done in 2 different ways. No way is wrong.  You can either dip it into the egg first and then into flour mix or first dip it into flour and then into the egg
  4. Using a rubbish bin bag help with the dipping of the flour step – no mess afterwards
  5. Add extra flavour into your flour – spice/ fresh herbs/ salt/ pepper
  6. Your pan must be hot and happening
  7. Don’t rush the process and turn the fish the entire time – let it do its thing on its own time
  8. Squeeze fresh lemon at the end
  9. Use quality potato for your chips – fit for purpose. Look on the potato bag when you buy it what potato variety it is.
  10. Cooking the potato before can help save some time and it will be less oily

If you are not worried about the calories…then ensure your oil is enough to cover all your potatoes – otherwise, it will go ‘’soggy’’ and not crispy












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


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


A cut above a dancing coal

‘You know that it would be untrue

You know that I would be a liar

If I was to say to you

Girl, we couldn’t get much higher

Come on baby, light my fire’

The Doors




There is something about a fire, and the atmosphere it gives to a party…with braai day around the corner and the Springboks ready for the field…it is time to get the fire started.

One can talk for hours about how to build the perfect fire, how to choose the perfect wood, what the perfect temperature is to ‘’braai’’, on and and and…

For me it comes down to choosing a fun crowd, good food and don’t forget the ice!  It takes about 2 hours for a tray of ice to freeze – SO BE PREPARED!!

The days of putting out an oily packet of chips in a plastic container are gone.  It’s time to try something new and wow your guests.  Bruschetta with fried tomatoes, basil and feta or anchovies, olives and origanum.  Make your own dips or make a nice flavoured salt for roasted cashew or almond nuts. Even the old famous ‘’braai broodjie’’ can be made into a gourmet explosion.  Use a whole ciabatta loaf and top with onion marmalade, tomato and mature cheddar cheese.

Always remember:  don’t interfere with captain ‘’braaier’’.  He (sometimes she) knows that you are hungry and that you don’t want a well cooked steak.  Keep calm and have another cold beverage.

Like legendary Koos Kombuis says:  ‘’die hele lewe is ‘n bring en braai’’



Glass is 100% recyclable and can be used again and again.

Passionfruit Lemonade

This is refreshing when served iced cold and can be a great ‘’ice breaker’’ to start a braai.  I don’t like carbonated drinks – so I prefer lemonade made with still water.  You can add mint or fresh raspberries if you want to be fancy, or gin in the summer if you want to add an extra kick.  Sugar is a very sensitive topic of discussion these days – listen to your palate and adjust your sugar crave accordingly.


1 cup                    White sugar

1 cup                    Water

1 cup                    Lemon juice (freshly squeezed)

4 cups                  Water to dilute

40g                       Passionfruit



Bring white sugar and water to the boil until all sugar is dissolved and add lemon juice, water to dilute and passionfruit.  Cool down and serve ice cold.




 “ Gee daai bek jam’’


Chicken wings with Yuzu and Apricot glaze

Yuzu is a citrus fruit from east Asia.  It is sour and salty in one!  You can get it from any Chinese groceries shop.  I don’t like to marinade the chicken wings in the sauce – but rather brush it over while it is cooking on the fire.  This ensures a great colour and no bitter burnt taste.


100ml                   Yuzu

4 tbsp                   Apricot Jam

1 tbsp                   Lemon juice

1 tbsp                   Soya sauce

1 tsp                     White sugar



Heat all the ingredients together in a pot until apricot jam is melted. If the glaze is too thick – add a little more lemon juice or yuzu.  ‘’Braai’’ the chicken wings and brush with Yuzu and Apricot glaze.  Season with salt and pepper – not too much as the yuzu is already salty.







Chimichurri  is lovely to serve with fish, chicken and lamb.  If it was up to my husband, Nikki, he will eat this every day – on anything from sliced bread to baked potato…even in his porridge.


1 bunch               Parsley with stalks

2 cloves               Garlic

½ teaspoon        Salt

1 teaspoon           Black pepper

½ cup                  Red wine vinegar

1 tbsp                   Wholegrain mustards

¾ cup                  Good quality Olive oil

½                         Red chili



Blitz all the ingredients together  – easy as 1,2,3,…



’Swartpot’’ Balsamic onions

IF there is any leftovers…slice it up and serve it with mature cheddar cheese on a toasted sandwich.


45ml                     Oil

500g                     Baby onions – cut the top off and peel, but leave one layer of skin on.  This will prevent the whole story of falling apart

5                            Thyme stalks

Sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp                   White sugar

20ml                     Balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp                   Butter



Heat oil in ‘’swartpot’’ and add onions – flat side down.  Brown the onion for about 5 minutes and then reduce the heat to very very low and put the lid on the pot.  After 30 minutes the onion should be half-cooked.  Add the thyme, salt, pepper, white sugar and balsamic vinegar and cook for another 30-40 minutes over very low heat, with the lid on.  When the onion is soft – add the butter and serve.


Use sunglasses when peeling a onion or put onions in freezer 15 minutes before you use it to prevent those tears from running down your cheeks.  If this does not do the trick – breathe through your mouth and stick your tongue out!!

Nectarine, Fennel & Goats cheese salad


1 packet               Micro leaves/ Rocket

1 log                     Goats cheese, broken into big chunks

Fennel bulb, thinly sliced

Nectarines, sliced into thin wedges



Layer your salad – starting with the micro leaves or rocket.  Top with goats cheese chunks, fennel and nectarines.  Repeat layers 3 times.  This salad does not need a very potent dressing – drizzle with olive oil.  I have some of the passionfruit left over from making the lemonade and I mixed that with a bit of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of black onion seeds.  Plain, simple and delicious.




IMG_0901                IMG_0917


Sweet potato with sesame & ginger salt


8                            Whole sweet potatoes, wrapped in tinfoil

2 tbsp                   Salt

2 tbsp                   White and black sesame seeds

1 tbsp                   Finely chopped fresh ginger

1 sprig                  Rosemary, chopped fine

1 tbsp                   Black pepper

2 tbsp                   Butter



Place the tinfoil wrapped sweet potato into the fire and leave to cook – this will take about 40 minutes. When you are ready to eat:  Open the tinfoil, make a cut in the sweet potato and put a dollop of butter on top and sprinkle with sesame & ginger salt.



Good quality sea salt contains many essential minerals for the body. The best type of sea salt should be slightly wet… from it’s original source.   Did you know you can use tinfoil to polish your silver? Line a pan with tinfoil, fill it with cold water and add two teaspoons of salt.  Drop your silverware into solution and let it sit for 3 minutes.  Rinse off and dry.



Doughnut Marshmallow S’mores

This is heaven!!


10                          Ready made frosted doughnuts ( I got mine from woolies) – cut in half

1                            Wholenut chocolate slab

20g                       Almonds and pistachio’s, chopped fine

20g                       Dried figs, chopped fine

5                            Marshmallow’s – braaied over the coles



Mix almonds, pistachio and dried figs together. Melt wholenut slab and dip half of doughnut into chocolate and roll into nut mix.  Set aside.  Braai the marshmallows and stick it inbetween chocolate coated and frosted doughnut.  You will want s……more



‘We didn’t start the fire. It was always burning since the world’s been turning. We didn’t start the fire. No we didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it’ – Billy Joel