Tag Archives: South African

South African Sosaties

Spending over a week with a handful of South Africans means that you must be ready to eat a lot of meat.  A lot of meat, prepared on the grill.  A lot of grilled meat, accompanied with salads and fruits and grilled corn on the cob.

I am so okay with this.

So here’s an awesome recipe for yet another South African grilled classic, sosaties (in Afrikaans meaning “skewered meat with spicy sauce”, thanks to Wikipedia).

South African Sosaties Printable Recipe Card

for the sauce (sous):

  • 1 large onion, sliced into half-rounds
  • 4 C water
  • 2 T mild curry powder
  • 1/2 T ground turmeric
  • 4 T sugar
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1 C malt vinegar
  • 2 C apricot jam
  • 1/2 T lemon juice (optional)
  • salt and white pepper to taste

for the skewers

  • 3-4 lbs beef or lamb roast, cubed into 1″ cubes
  • 1 small package dried apricots
  • 1/2 package of bacon (1 strip for each skewer)
  • about a dozen skewers, if wood, soak in water before using

The meat must be prepared ahead of time and marinated for at least 24 hours in the sosatie sauce, so make sure you have time and room in the fridge!

To prepare the sauce, first slice the onion and bring it to a boil in the four cups of water.  Set aside.  Combine the dry ingredients (curry, turmeric, sugar, cornstarch, and some salt and pepper), then add in the wet ingredients (jam, vinegar, and lemon juice).  Pour this mixture into the pan with the onions, and bring to a boil for 3-4 minutes, until it starts to thicken.  Set aside and allow it to cool.

Once the sauce is cooled, you can prepare the meat for the marinade.  Layer apricots, bacon, and the cubed meat in a plastic or glass container.  Cover with the cooled sosatie sauce.  This container was really convenient because it can be flipped to allow for the easiest mixing ever–but otherwise, you may have to get your hands dirty. 

Keep in the fridge for at least 24 hours before grilling.

To make the kabobs, skewer the beef, apricots, and the bacon (we’d suggest not having apricot on the ends, because they’ll tend to fall off during grilling). 

Grill the sosaties over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until they are cooked through.  Baste periodically with leftover sosatie sauce.

Enjoy!  These are tender and juicy, and the perfect combination of sweet and spicy.

And if you have never had a grilled apricot, then you haven’t lived.  Trust me when I say you might want to go out and find a South African to marry, if you haven’t already, because they make really great food:

The men are also quite handsome:

The sosaties were even better the second day, warmed up for leftovers with a giant salad–but I can promise you that the leftovers won’t last long.


Filed under Entrees

Rooibos Chai

Nothing like a spicy, warm, and smooth mug of tea to start the day–especially when you are on vacation.

While searching for recipes that I thought looked good, I read a blog post about how saying “chai tea” is redundant and incorrect, so I’m trying to say it right–but it goes against years of Starbucks training.

So what to call this?  I really wanted to say rooibos chai tea, but I know that’s not right!  Chai rooibos?  Rooibos chai? Chai tea rooibos?  Masala (the blend of spices I used) rooibos chai?  Chai masala rooibos?

I’m just gonna stick with the simple version:

Rooibos Chai (serves 2)

  • 1 heaping t rooibos tea
  • 2 C boiling water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 whole peppercorns
  • 6 fennel seeds
  • milk and sugar to taste

Most importantly–you must toast the spices!  I used the toaster oven at 350 and toasted for 4-5 minutes, until they were touched with golden color and smelled amazing.

Next, crush ’em up with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder–but don’t go too small.  You just need to release the flavor, not grind them to a fine powder that can fit through a tea sieve.

Make the rooibos tea–I used a Bodum, which was perfect for straining the spices later.  You can make the tea (just boil the water and add the tea) while the spices are toasting and let it steep.  The awesome thing about rooibos tea is that you can let it steep all day long and it will never get bitter, just nice and strong.

Now we don’t have to go all day, but a good 15-20 minutes would be nice.

Once the spices are crushed, toss them in with the rooibos tea and let it continue to steep–like I said before, 15-20 minutes is good, but feel free to go longer.  I did about 20 minutes and it had a nice assertive flavor that was still so smooth.  Warm up some milk (I used about 1/6 C) and add the tea (and sugar if you want).

Breathe in deeply.



I love this tea.  I want to make it every day. 

You can mix up a big batch of the spices, toasted and crushed, to have on hand and use when you get a craving.  Which, after you try this tea, will probably be often.  You can also get creative–use the spices I used, or take some out, or add more–for instance, adding a few more peppercorns will make a more intense and spicy tea.

It’s worth the prep.

For breakfast everyday I’ve been eating some variation of a greek yogurt parfait: plain greek yogurt, fruit (bananas or clementines), Ancient Harvest cereal, and raisins.  Mason jar=perfect height for a filling breakfast that’s fun to eat, too.

I’m going to go out for a quick run, then it’s time for a late lunch and board game playing with Mom, Fritz, and Jordi.

Sorry you can’t be here for this, Dad.

I know how you love board games.



Filed under Beverages

Banana Whole-Wheat Rusks (South African)

It’s amazing how much the weather affects my mood.  When I woke up this morning it was gray and rainy out.  I did my usual Friday morning thing (straightened up, made a giant breakfast, did the dishes, and sat down to read) and even though that routine usually fills me with a huge sense of peace and relaxation, I felt weirdly…melancholy.  An hour or two went by, and as the rain stopped and the sun came out I was back to my regular baking, errand running, procrastinating, happy self.  And it was 100% due to the sun.  It was gorgeous enough to open the windows while I baked–and that is probably my favorite thing ever.

It also might have had to do with the green-themed care package that arrived in the mail today stuffed with goodies from my parents.  Thin Mints really just have a happy way about them, and my mom told me she has a new problem called she can’t stop buying me cute and functional things for my kitchen.

Mom and Dad found this scarf for me in Chinatown last time they were in NYC for business

Now that is a problem that I can live with.

I’ve mentioned before that the hubs is South African, and he has begged me for rusks for a few weeks now.  Rusks are a hard, twice-baked bread that is like biscotti in that it is dipped in tea or coffee to soften before eating.  Usually rusks are a little less refined than biscotti, too–salty buttermilk or rough bran often flavor these amazing snacks.

I have become a huge fan of rusks in the last few years, and since Fritz has also been asking for banana bread (he gets excited when he spies a few spots on a banana), I decided to go out on a limb and combine the two!

Start off with banana bread:

Whole-Wheat Banana Bread (you could use any banana bread recipe you like, but I’d aim for a hearty, less sweet version like this one I adapted–you want to complement your tea, not overwhelm it)

  • 2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 2 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C brown sugar (I used Indian maple sugar)
  • 1/2 C milk (I think these would be even better if you substituted buttermilk here)
  • 2 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350.  Start by combining the dry ingredients, then adding the wet ingredients and mixing until a smooth batter forms.  Like I’ve said before, I like to slice the bananas into the mixer and then let the beater mash them a bit–then there are some chunks of banana left for discovery.

Pour into a greased loaf pan–I topped it with a crushed granola bar for some extra texture, but that’s optional.  Bake on the middle rack until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  The top and edges will be a nice, dark brown because of the whole-wheat flour.  Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before you turn it out and slice it.

If you are just making banana bread, stop here.  Otherwise–turn the oven down to warm/200 degrees and get ready for rusks!

Banana Whole-Wheat Rusks

Slice the bread into thick slices, and divide each slice vertically into four pieces for thin, rectangular shapes.  Place the rusks on a dry baking sheet and dry out in the oven, rotating every hour or so to prevent them from burning.

It helps to keep the oven door propped open a bit to let the moisture escape.  The drying should take 3-6 hours for one loaf, depending on how hot your oven is and how thinly sliced the rusks are.  Once they are dry, cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.  Serve with tea or coffee.

Fritz nearly fainted with happiness when he discovered what was cookin’ in the oven all day.

Even Henry couldn’t wait for these rusks to finally be finished:

You’ll notice that Henry is seated on a scratching pad that he has decided is better suited as a throne–he sits on it all day long.  Gotta love that catnip.


Filed under Breads, Snacks

Rooibos Tea Cookies

Hello my friends!  Today was a perfect, sleepy, peaceful, beautiful snow day!

We knew there was a big storm a-comin’, but the dental school made me so happy by pre-emptively canceling classes and clinic the night before, so Fritz was prepared to sleep in.  It was great timing because I am driving the very long trek to my parents’ house tomorrow with my good friend Jen, and the snow stopped in the afternoon–enough time for the plows to go out and do their thang.  But today…ahh.  Today I got to read (I finished The Help in less than 24 hours), bake (two different things!), get ready for my trip and soon Fritz and I will finish the sixth season of LOST.  Now that is a good day.

Even Henry got into the spirit, finishing up a few novels while I baked and Fritz shoveled:

And of course, it isn’t a snow day without hot chocolate.  Erin and Bruce introduced us to this delicious Mexican chocolate–and my life has never been the same:

Now for the baking.  I made some Earl Grey cookies the year I graduated high school (isn’t it amazing that I remember that year so vividly?), and for some strange reason I woke up this morning craving them.  I googled the recipe and found the exact same one from Real Simple that I used way, waay back then.

However, I wanted to mix things up a bit.  And since my favorite South African will be here all alone for a long weekend, I thought I’d give him something to remember me by.  So instead of Earl Grey, I used…

Rooibos!  And they turned out A-mazing.

Rooibos Tea Cookies (adapted from this recipe)

  • 2 T rooibos tea (ground–I used tea from four tea bags)
  • 1 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 C butter (I only had 1/2 C butter so I had to add 1/2 Smart Balance since we were snowed in–but otherwise I would have used all real butter.  Sorry Dad!)

I set up the table to take pictures of the ingredients, but I got too excited and forgot to take a picture before I started tossing ingredients in the mixer.  Whoops!

The recipe says to process the tea further, but I like the bits of tea leaves so I decided to leave ’em as is.  Put all the dry ingredients into your mixer and blend.  Add the vanilla and butter and mix on medium until fully combined (the dough should form one ball).  Divide the dough in half and place each half on plastic wrap, roll into a log, and wrap tightly.  Put in the refrigerator to chill for at least half an hour (I popped mine into the freezer for the last ten minutes so they’d hold their shape even better during cutting).

Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking racks with parchment paper and set aside.  When the dough has chilled, take one roll at a time, remove from plastic, and cut into pieces, at 1/3″ intervals.  Line on a cookie sheet.

Bake the cookies until they are just starting to brown at the edges, about 10-12 minutes on the middle rack.  Remove and let cool on the sheets for another five minutes before cooling fully on a cooling rack.

If you eat one straight out of the oven (which, admit it, you will), it will be soft and chewy, but once it cools they are light and crispy.  I’m normally heartily in the chewy-cookie camp, but man, these are good.  And perfect for dunking into milk, coffee, or (duh) tea.

So good.

I want another one right now.

Fritz made me promise to leave all of them here when I leave tomorrow, but I may have to make another batch just for my family to enjoy. 

So buttery!

So golden!

Go.  Go and make these right this second.  And feel free to use another kind of tea–I was thinking chamomile might be my next try for a sleepytime cookie.


Filed under Desserts

African Safari Beer Bread

Fritz and I got married on May 30, 2009 (a year and a half ago yesterday!).  For our rehearsal dinner, the Zietsmans threw an “African safari”-themed dinner for all the relatives and friends that had gathered ’round for the occasion.  I still dream about that lamb roast…

But that’s besides the point.  One of the fantastic ideas they had was to buy me a safari-themed cookbook (A Kitchen Safari) that everyone signed to give us their best wishes.  Of the best signatures:

 Lauren and Fritzy,

You guys are pretty much the best thing that’s ever happened to me (and each other, I guess) further proving the perfection of our triangle.  I love you both!


Dearest Lauren & Boeta,

May your home be filled with love, blessings, hugs, smiles, memories, and good food (by Lauren), good cabinets (built by Fritz), & most important…the two of you, side-by-side!  I am so overjoyed to see the two of you tie the knot!  Love, unconditionally…


La and Fritz

I am without words…too much lamb.

Grandpa Charles

So perfect for reminiscing.  As I was paging through this book a few days ago, I was re-inspired about how much I love everything South African, and found a lot of recipes I want to try.  The first one I tried was a tremendous success–African Safari Beer Bread.  That’s right, beer.  And weirdly enough, I actually had some in the fridge.

African Safari Beer Bread (from A Kitchen Safari, called “Camping Bread”)

  • 750 ml bread flour (a little over 3 C–I used 1 1/2 C whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour)
  • 5 ml salt (1 t)
  • 5 ml ground cumin (1 t)
  • 15 ml baking powder (1 T)
  • 2 ml bicarbonate of soda (1/2 t–what a great name for baking soda)
  • 1 x 340 ml can of beer (1 1/5 C or 11 1/2 oz)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 5 ml rock salt (1 t, coarse sea salt)

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C–for us Americans, that’s 320 degrees F.  Mix together the dry ingredients (not the rock salt–that’s for the top later).  Add in the beer.  You can drink the rest if you want…it was a little too early for me.  Oh, and I hate beer.

The dough will be firm and a bit sticky.  Shape the dough and place it into an oiled bread pan.

Using a pastry brush (or your husband’s silicone grilling baster brush), spread beaten egg over the top and sprinkle with the coarse salt.

Here’s the best part–it doesn’t have to rise!  Bake in the middle rack of the oven for an hour.  Turn out and cool.  The book suggests serving the bread with apricot preserves and mature cheddar cheese–a combo which I’ve found to be quite popular with my favorite South Africans. 

The bread is salty and has a perfect touch of cumin.  Fritz took one bite, look puzzled, and took a second–then proclaimed it was “his favorite bread ever”.  The crust is dee-vine.  The egg and salt brushed on top give it almost a homemade soft-pretzel feel, and the bread underneath is moist and not too dense.

By far the fastest bread I’ve ever made.

I have a lot of hope for the rest of the recipes in this book!  I’m going to try a second one now for the married group meeting tomorrow: granola muffins with raspberry preserves.  Fritz might faint when he finds out–that man loves granola. 

And eventually I’ll find some time to study.


Filed under Breads