Food & Wine

Kitchen Crushes

Kitchen Crushes

Chefs reveal mum’s influences.

Ask most seasoned chefs about their childhood and they’re bound to share fond memories of how the maternal figures in their lives have influenced and inspired their culinary dreams and successes. To celebrate Mother’s Day, we asked some of our favourite chefs to share dishes they love because of their mums.


Graham Neilson, 9th Avenue Bistro

Owner of Morningside’s warm and unpretentious 9th Avenue Bistro, Graham strives for perfection with every plate of fresh, locally sourced seasonal cuisine he creates thanks to his mum. This recipe for Braised Oxtail was a staple of hers that he has continued to cook and adapt in many different ways including dishes like oxtail stuffed tomato, as a canapé, as a main protein ingredient in croquettes and as a main course of oxtail stuffed chicken.

Braised Oxtail



3kg oxtail

Seasoned flour for dredging

Canola/duck oil for browning

2 onions – peeled and diced

2 carrots – peeled and diced

2 stalks celery – diced

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup red wine

750ml of oxtail packet soup



Heat a large sauté pan with enough oil to generously cover the bottom. Dredge the oxtails in the seasoned flour and shake off excess flour. Cook the oxtails until brown on both sides and place into a large four-inch pan for braising. Pour off some of the excess oil and add the celery, carrot and onion and cook gently over medium heat. Once the vegetables start to brown, add the chopped garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Deglaze with the red wine, add the tomato paste and pour everything over the browned meat. Place the bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme sprigs over the meat. Cover with the packet soup and close the container with tin foil. Braise in a 180°C oven for about three hours or until the meat is very tender. Remove the meat from the pan using a slotted spoon and allow to cool on a sheet pan in the refrigerator. Strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve into a pot and return to the stove to reduce down until thick enough to use as a sauce. Cool sauce in fridge and skim off all excess fat. While waiting for the sauce to cool, pick off all the meat from the oxtail bones and reserve covered in the fridge. Pour the skimmed-cooled sauce over the picked meat.


Jane and Amy Weare, We Are Food

Together with their mum Didee, Jane and Amy from We Are Food prepare wholesome, tasty and affordable frozen dishes that can be enjoyed anywhere out of a state-of-the-art factory based in Durban. This means using ingredients they use in their own kitchens, and methods that have been tried and tested for many years. Hard work combined with talent and passion is their recipe for something tasty. This delicious Caramel Pecan Cheesecake is based on a recipe that Didee often makes whenever the family need a decadent dessert.

“Staying true to her flamboyant style of cooking, the original recipe had very few measurements for the ingredients, just a whole lot of guess work and good feeling! But one thing is for sure, whenever mum makes it there is never a crumb left behind!”

Caramel Pecan cheesecake





200g Nutricrust Biscuits

100g Butter

50g Pecan Nuts (can omit but use if feeling extravagant)



750g Smooth Cottage Cheese

30ml Vanilla

1 ½ cups Brown Sugar

3 Eggs

30ml Plain Flour

250ml finely chopped Pecan Nuts



250ml Brown Sugar

125ml Fresh Cream

*Keep some extra nuts, whole or coarsely chopped to decorate if you like.



Preheat your oven to 180°C, with the oven rack in the middle of the oven.



Melt the butter for 1 minute in the microwave, add more time if required. Blitz the biscuit and nuts in your Magi-mix on a pulse mode, adding the butter slowly.  Don’t over blitz, you want a medium crumb. Press the crumb into the base of a well-greased, large spring form pan, and set to the side



Using an electric hand-mixer, beat together the cottage cheese, eggs, vanilla and sugar. Add the flour through a sieve to avoid lumps.  Also add the finely chopped pecan nuts. Fold all the ingredients in by hand until mixed through. Pour the filling over the crumb mixture in the spring form pan. Bake at 180°C for 40-50 minutes, until the filling only has a slight jiggle. This will set with cooling. If the top begins to brown too much during cooking, cover with some foil.



Place the sugar in a medium to large saucepan on a medium heat.  Do not mix, but rather shake the pot gently as the sugar begins to melt and brown more. In a separate pot bring the cream up to a hot temperature while not allowing it to bubble over. When the sugar is in a liquid form, add the hot cream carefully, while whisking quickly.


Finally, once the cheesecake has cooled, remove from the spring form pan (a sharp knife dipped in hot water can help with any sticky edges).  Plate it on a serving dish, and drizzle with the room temperature caramel topping.  Decorate with additional pecan nuts should you wish to.



Jackie Cameron, Jackie Cameron’s School of Food and Wine

Living her dream after having opened her own School of Food and Wine, Jackie has so much to share when it comes to food and the many lessons she has learnt over the years. She made her first biscuits under the watchful eyes of her grandmothers, and it was in their kitchens that she came to understand the special relationship between food and family. Jackie shares this famous Chocolate Sponge Cake that she and her sister, Sheldeen, used to make at least once a week when they were growing up.

“We never really had a house filled with sweets and caokes, for instance, we would make, cook or bake what we craved. Often at 8pm we would go downstairs and whip up a cake. Such special childhood memories.”

Photo credit : Peter Wickham


Cameron’s Chocolate Sponge Cake


Makes 1 layer cake



125 g salted butter

315 g castor sugar

3 whole eggs

5 ml vanilla extract

200 g cake flour

30 ml cocoa powder

15 ml baking powder

185 ml full-cream milk, at room temperature


Creamy cocoa and milk icing

15 g salted butter, softened

400 g icing sugar

60 ml cocoa powder

90 ml full-cream milk, at room temperature



Cream the butter and sugar together until light in colour. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking each one in completely, then add the vanilla extract. Sift the dry ingredients together and add alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture. Once all the ingredients have been incorporated, use an electric mixer to whisk on high speed for 5 minutes. Divide the mixture between two lined and greased 22 cm cake pans. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 20 minutes, or until cooked. Remove the cakes from the pans and place on a wire rack to cool down.


Creamy cocoa and milk icing

Whisk the butter until smooth. Slowly start adding the icing sugar and cocoa powder, making sure all the butter is worked in. Continue adding the icing sugar and cocoa powder alternately with the milk until everything is integrated and the icing is smooth and glossy. When the cakes are cool, sandwich together with the icing and top with a thick layer of icing.



Penny Fitchet, ERA Ice Cream

Director of ERA Ice Cream, former MasterChef SA contestant and History teacher at Durban High School, Penny loves decadent  delights, but she’s also a fan of the age-old traditional stuff – the kind of meals that remind her of home, like this old family Bobotie recipe that has been passed down through her mom’s side over several generations.

“My mom has been making it for us since I can remember. It is a meal that is comforting, packed with flavour, has exactly the right texture and I love it most of all because it feels like home.


Mom’s Bobotie



2 onions (diced)

sunflower/ canola oil (for frying)

2 tbsp. brown vinegar

5 tbsp. chutney

2 tbsp. apricot jam

2 tsp turmeric powder

2 to 4 tsp curry powder


500g minced beef (For a veggie version, replace minced beef with black lentils)

½ cup raisins

3 slices white bread

1½ cups milk

3 eggs

4 bay leaves



Fry the diced onion in a large pan with the oil and vinegar until translucent (about 15 minutes). Add the chutney and apricot jam and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes before adding the turmeric, curry powder and some salt. Cook the spices off for about 5 minutes, then stir in the minced beef. Allow the beef to cook on a medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until browned. Whilst the beef is cooking, soak the bread in the milk. Once the beef is ready, add the raisins as well as the bread, which needs to be broken up into the pan. Turn off the heat.

Beat the eggs into the remaining milk. Spoon the mince into a baking dish and pour the egg mix over the top. Place the bay leaves into the mince so that half of each leaf is poking into the mix, whilst the other half is not. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes or until golden.

Serve with turmeric steamed rice, toasted almond flakes and chutney.



Warren Frantz, The Cargo Hold, uShaka Marine World

Executive Chef at The Cargo Hold and uShaka Marine World, Warren is inspired by food, its origins, its history and how to bring out its true flavour.

“Mother’s Day is a very important occasion for me, as it’s a day to honour my mom. I found it so hard in the beginning and to be honest I still do, as it is such a huge reminder that my mom just isn’t physically around anymore. However, if my mom taught me anything, it’s about celebrating, and her favourite thing to do was to host her family at home and serve delicious home-cooked food.  On Mother’s Day, I’ll be cooking one of my mom’s all-time favourites – The Cape Malay Koe’sister, a spicy dumpling with a cake-like texture, finished off with a sprinkling of coconut. This should not to be confused with the Afrikaner Koeksisters though. These traditional sticky spicy treats are so yummy, and this recipe was one that my mother used to make when I was a little boy. It’s taken me awhile to perfect it but it’s so comforting on weekends when you wake up to that fresh smell of Koe’sisters.

Cape Malay Koe’sister 

40 Koe’sisters



4 cups cake flour

2 cups self-raising flour

⅓ cup sugar

2.5ml salt

10g (1 packet) instant yeast

10 ml fine cardamom

10ml fine ginger

10ml fine cinnamon

10ml aniseed

1 large egg

15ml oil

30ml butter

375ml hot water

375ml milk

Oil for deep frying

Desiccated coconut for sprinkling



1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 cinnamon stick

2 cardamom pods

1 tablespoon salt

150g cold butter, cubed

375ml milk



Mix flour with spices, sugar, yeast and salt. Melt butter in hot water and mix milk. Add egg, oil and milk-water mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly to form soft smooth dough. Leave to rise in a warm place, 1 to 2 hours. Once risen, moisten hands with oil and roll dough similar to a sausage shape and cut into 2cm slices. Set aside to rise again. Lightly stretch slices to form an oval shape and deep fry in medium hot oil until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.



Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a slow boil, stirring to ensure sugar does not burn. Stir until the sugar syrup becomes slightly sticky. Boil the Koe’sisters in it for1- 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with a little of the desiccated coconut and serve hot.







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