The cover of this book is what really got my heart beating. First of all, my favourite colour, turquoise. Then the absolute best fruit on earth, the wonderful pomegranate, which is such a beautiful fruit, filled with little ruby jewels.
When I page through the pages of ‘Marianas Country Kitchen’ I feel something I can’t explain. It’s an almost emotional experience which reminds me of growing up in my parents’ kitchen and garden.
I simply love this book. It is one of the most beautiful publications I have seen in a very long time. I adore the recipes and love the styling and stories. Can you tell yet that I’m head over heels for this book?
In 2000, Mariana Esterhuizen and her husband said goodbye to city living and opened a restaurant in the village of Stanford. Since then Mariana’s has grown into one of the top eateries in South Africa, attracting foodies from all over. The average wait for a table is three months.
The secret? Mariana serves food fresh from her own extensive vegetable, fruit and herb garden, prepared in her own unique way. Her delightful book includes recipes for the restaurant’s top dishes, along with vegetable dishes, classic dishes, and Mariana’s favourite, foods from her childhood, courtesy of her mother.
Divided seasonally into four sections, this is the ultimate cookery book for those who love fresh, honest, delicious in-season eating. The stunning photography of the food and the gardens and Mariana at work is by the renowned Stephen Inggs.
Mariana, I wish you every success with your beautiful book and hope that you sell thousands of copies!
Mussels with tomato vinaigrette
The Scrabble set at our family house at De Kelders, near Gans Bay, has wooden tiles and we use a hand-me-down 1944 illustrated edition of The Chambers Dictionary to settle disputes. We are stuck in a bit of a time warp here, but I offer no apologies, as this is what we like when we are on holiday.
When a friend arrived with a bowl of fresh mussels, another old standby came to the rescue. Who remembers Time-Life’s ‘The Good Cook’ series of cookbooks from the late 1970s? Richard Olney was the chief consultant on this formidable series and I decided to use his recipe for tomato vinaigrette as inspiration for seasoning our mussels, because tomatoes have such depth of flavour and are so plentiful at this time of year.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minute
250g fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ t honey
½ t salt
¼ t freshly ground white pepper
100ml best-quality olive oil
2t fresh tarragon, chopped plus 2 sprigs
1kg fresh mussels in the shell
100ml white wine
Cos lettuce leaves and bread to serve
Place the chopped tomatoes in a blender and process until smooth. Place a sieve over a jug and strain the tomato purée to catch the pips. Whisk the garlic, honey, salt and pepper into the tomato purée. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk vigorously until the oil is incorporated into the tomato mixture. Stir in the chopped tarragon.
Scrub the mussel shells and cut off any beards on the shells.
Pour the white wine and water into a large saucepan with a lid. Add the tarragon sprigs and the mussels. Place the saucepan over high heat and cover.
Bring to the boil and check the mussels after 3 minutes. Once most of the mussel shells have opened, remove from the heat. Discard any mussels that have not opened or those with broken shells and then pile the opened mussels on a serving platter.
Serve with the tomato vinaigrette on the side.
Published by Human and Rousseau