Chocolate Chiffon Cake

20150605_210240We all have those signature dishes that we bring out to impress, well this is a family favourite which not only is a show stopper, but it’s also pretty flop-proof.

For us foodies, there is an emotional link that connects family, food and memories, and without doubt, this cake brings back the strongest childhood recollections of me sitting on the kitchen counter and helping my mom whip the cake batter……..and of course licking the bowl after the fact!!

moms choc cake

Today it is still the dish that we ask my 82 year old mom to bring for birthdays and family reunions.

My rugby boys are allowed a “cheat” from their diet once a week and more often than not this is the treat that they choose……..needless to say it doesn’t last long.

Chiffon Choc cake


2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

1 tsp flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 cup oil

1 cup water

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

8 eggs

3 Tbsp cocoa powder

mom's choc cake 2


  • Mix together sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients
  • Add oil and water and beat to incorporate
  • Fold in the cocoa powder
  • Add the egg yolks and beat on high for about half an hour
  • Separately beat egg whites to peak stage and add bicarb. Whip for a few minutes more until it has a meringue texture.
  • lightly fold the egg whites to the batter and place in a lightly greased baking pan.
  • Bake on 170C for50 minutes or until testing skewer is clear
  • Top with a chocolate ganache ( 2 parts dark chocolate/1 part cream ) when cooled

This really is a light, not over sweet cake that is always a winner!!


Lemon & Blueberry Cheese cake

When I was a little girl,living in Mozambique, I distinctly remember being at a tea party with my mother and being totally repulsed by the fact that the hostess offered my mom “Cheesecake”!!!


You see, its not a Portuguese delicacy and as I had never heard of this cake so I immediately thought it was a  savory cake made with cheddar, or one of the cheeses that I was accustomed to taking to school on my sandwich. It was only as a teenager that I became curious about trying this “strange” treat.

Today however it is my most favourite cake and I love both the baked and the chilled version, one I traditionally make in winter and the later is ideal as a summer dessert. Another big hit with this cake is that its less heavy on the calories as I use fat free cottage cheese and this psychologically makes me feel less guilty about indulging….for this reason I probably eat a double serving, but that’s my issue!!


It really is very moreish.



200g Lemon creams – crushed

2 Tbsp melted butter


550g smooth cottage cheese

150g castor sugar

50g flour

3 large eggs

25g melted unsalted butter

1 lemon – juiced and zested

1 cup blueberries


1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp sesame seeds



  • Line a springform pan with baking paper and grease it
  • Mix together the butter and biscuit crumble and press into the base of the pan. place into the fridge for 20 min to set whilst you make the filling
  • Cream the cottage cheese and sugar together until fluffy
  • Add sieved flour and continue to beat
  • Whip the 3 whole eggs  until light in colour
  • Add to creamed cheese mixture
  • Add melted butter, lemon juice and half the rind ( keep balance to decorate )
  • Pour filling over the biscuit base and bake on 190C for 25min or until the filling is slightly browned but still has a “wobble” in the centre. This is very important as it will continue to cook even once it has been removed from the oven and if overcooked, the cake will be too dense.
  • Allow to cool and prepare the praline by placing sugar and 1 tbsp water in a pan over high heat. once the sugar has melted do not agitate it as this will create crystals.
  • As the sugar starts to turn brown remove from the heat and pour it onto a baking tray which has been greased.
  • sprinkle sesame seeds over the brittle whilst still wet
  • Once it hardens, crack it into pieces
  • Remove the cake from the baking pan when cooled and decorate the top with blueberries, lemon rind and pieces of praline.


Joani’s Xmas Stollen

So Christmas is just around the corner and I am overwhelmed as to how quickly this year has galloped along!! I remember my mother telling me that “the older you get the quicker time flies”, and I believe this to be truer every year………..

So I must be getting on in years!! #sigh

Last week I was the guest chef at the Country Christmas  Fair and I demonstrated  a variety of yummy traditional Christmas treats, but with a coastal twist, as our Xmas is normally around the swimming pool in a more informal setting, due to our climate.

Stollen is a famous fruitcake that is very traditional during the festive season, and as my paternal grandmother was of German decent this substitute Christmas cake has always been a favourite around my family.


Its made from a rich yeast dough mixed with candied fruit and almonds and the loaves are folded to symbolize baby Jesus in swaddling clothes.

The traditional way is to place a roll of marzipan (almond paste) in the center of the dough, but I prefer to add chunks of it when I mix the candied fruit and nuts as the thought of biting into the marzipan is not appealing to me.

The dough is not very sweet but is perfectly balanced by the richness of the fruit and nuts. Once baked they are generously brushed with butter, topped with icing sugar and keep for at least 2 weeks before eating.



Candied Citrus Peel:

citrus peel

1 lemon zest removed

1 orange zest removed

2 Tbsp white sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Dough: Makes 1 large or 2 med loaves

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup cranberries

1 cup almonds

1/2 cup mixed nuts

120g marzipan

1 pkt (10g) dry yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm water ( not hot or the yeast will not activate)

5 cups flour

1 cup milk

375g butter

3 med eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp almond essence (optional)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

Marichino cherries for decorating

1/2 cup melted butter for glazing

1 cup of castor sugar – 1/2 for dusting & 1/2 to be mixed with a little water to drizzle over loaves

How to:


  • Place raisins, citrus peels and sugar in a pan and cover with a little water
  • Bring to the boil and then simmer over low heat until liquid has caramalised
  • Once cooled, fold cinnamon and nutmeg into the candied citrus #heavenly

citrus peel 1

citrus peel 5


  • Place yeast in warm water for 10 min
  • Add 1 cup of the flour and 1/2 cup of milk to yeast, mix into a smooth paste, cover with clingwrap and allow to set for about 20 min
  • Add the remaining flour and milk, butter, eggs, vanilla, sugar and salt and mix with a wooden spoon.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the mixture is elastic ( add extra flour if the consistency is too wet, but the end result is fairly sticky ).
  •  Place dough back into the bowl and brush surface with a little melted butter, cover and allow to proof for 1 hr
  • After the resting time, add citrus peel, raisins, cranberries, almonds, nuts and marzipan and knead them into the dough so that they are evenly distributed
  • Roll dough into rectangle and fold the sides into the middle
  • Decorate the top of the loaf with maraschino cherries and flaked almonds
  • Bake for 45 minutes on 190C until the loaves are golden brown
  • Immediately brush each loaf with melted butter until its all used up.
  • Mix 1/2 the icing sugar with water and drizzle over loaf
  • Sieve the icing sugar over Stollen

Store in an air-tight container or freeze for later use.

stollen 3

Enjoy with some iced Eggnog!!!!

Asian Calamari with Quinoa & Nut Stuffing


Its been ages since I last blogged, but I have been on a cooking binge of all proportions!! I have been developing recipes for different brands, catering for corporate and private functions and most excitingly running different pop-up restaurants……… time has been fleeting, but I have not stopped taking pictures of all the yummy foods.

So, I have made a not-to-self, to take time out and write about the dishes that have really been awesome and different.

Here is one that is a real winner and has no carbohydrates ( for those following the Tim Noakes – Banting style of eating this is great) and can be served as an entrée or as a main dish with a green salad.




10 mini calamari tubes

1 cup quinoa

1 lemon grass stalk – bruised and chopped

1 garlic clove – roughly chopped

1 knob of ginger

1 small chilli – seeds removed

1 tsp veg stock powder

1/4 cup pecan or pine nuts

1 sprig of coriander



  • Bring 2 cups of water to the boil with lemon grass, chilli garlic, ginger and stock in it


  • Add 1 cup of quinoa and gently simmer for 15 min
  • Drain and when cooled add chopped nuts and coriander
  • Use the above to stuff the calamari tubes and secure the open end with a toothpick


  • Grill on a griddle pan and serve with lemon juice and/or sweet chilli sauce




Quinoa Sushi Rolls

I know that food has “trends” just as fashion does, but good old sushi never seems to go out of favour and its been trending for the past couple of years. For me, the relationship with sushi was not an instant love-affair, but rather a gradual learning to enjoy, thanks to my two sons Kyle and Bruce who are fanatics and rather well educated on the topic.

But they are not the only ones who enjoy “fashion sandwiches”, rainbow rolls etc……….my Sharks rugby boys, ( whose nutritional well-being I am responsible for ) are also crazy about “all things sushi” and with most of them avoiding carbs in the evening, I came up with this variation of sushi rolls. If you are gluten intolerant or are on a ketogenic diet where rice is not welcome, then try this recipe using quinoa and use different fillings. I’m giving you a few ideas for fillings but use whatever you have in your fridge.


Quinoa is a grain and it really is becoming the new buzz word in nutrition as it is high in protein, contains no wheat or carbohydrates and is low GI, making it a “superfood”.


1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable stock

4 sheets Nori- seaweed

1 tsp rice vinegar



Cucumber and carrot matchsticks

Flaked tuna



Biltong shavings

Blanched spinach and cream cheese


VEGGIE FILLING (Ideal for vegans)

Avocado and Pepperdews



  • Bring stock to the boil and add quinoa. reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until grain is soft. Drain and when cooled, add vinegar
  • Place Nori sheet on a bamboo mat or if you don’t have one, use clingfilm
  • Spread quinoa evenly over the Nori, leaving the edge closest to you and the opposite one free
  • Layer your topping in the centre of the quinoa
  • Using the mat, start rolling the Nori tightly all the way to the opposite end and wet the exposed edge with water to seal it
  • Using a serrated knife, cut the roll into 4cm lenghts
  • serve with your favourite dipping sauce or soy sauce.


Pecan and Cranberry Choc Lindt Cake

Its no secret that my biggest passion is to make cakes, pastries, desserts, sugar-works and all things sweet………and yet I don’t have a sweet-tooth and would much prefer to devour a tapas savoury meal ahead of anything sweet.

When a friend approached me to do a pop-up tea garden in her beautiful home, I jumped for joy and the first cake that came to mind was this one. I have taken a classic up-side-down cake and re-invented it with some lovely ingredients to make it a deliciously chewy, nutty, layered cake between a filling of yoghurt and cream cheese and topped with praline.

Not only is it a real treat to eat but it is quick and easy to make as all the ingredients are mixed at once, ideal for us busy people. This one doesn’t last long in my home and is a real crowd pleaser!!




250ml brown sugar

125g butter

50ml cream

1 cup chopped pecan nuts


360g flour

300g sugar

180ml sour cream

60ml butter

250ml water

5 ml bicarbonate of soda

5ml salt

5ml vanilla essence

5ml baking powder

2 large eggs

120g cranberry Lindt chocolate ( slab)


  • For the praline, dissolve the sugar in the cream and butter over low heat – stirring occasionally
  • Divide 3/4 of the mixture between 2 lined and greased cake tins – balance is used for garnish
  • Level the surface and sprinkle the pecan nuts ontop of the syrup and set aside


  • Mix all the ingredients ( except choc ) in an electrical beater beating on low speed for 1 min, and then on high for a further 5 minutes
  • Break the chocolate into pieces and dissolve over a water bath until its melted
  • Fold the chocolate into the cake mixture – don’t over work it
  • Turn batter into the praline coated tins
  • Bake on 180C for 25 minutes


125ml yoghurt

240ml smooth cream cheese

2 Tbsp icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

  • Mix yoghurt, cream cheese, vanilla and 1 Tbsp icing sugar
  • When the cakes are cool, spread the filling generously between the layers of cake
  • Sieve balance of icing sugar over the cake and garnish with remaining nuts


Summer Russian salad

So its the height of summer in Durban by the sea and the temperatures are between 30C and 39C with the humidity content reaching dangerous levels and I have to muster up some delicious, nutritional yet hearty lunches for my new intake of Sharks rugby boys. This year I have mainly front row players, which means that their appetites are larger than most, but I still have the task of reducing their body fat percentage………..some by as much as 10% !

So here is what they are having for lunch today. This has always been a family favourite that I grew up with and my boys have always loved scooping left-overs from the fridge when they got home from school. By making your own mayonnaise with good quality vegetable oil, the fat content is controlled.




2 Tins of tuna in brine – drained

4 medium potatoes – peeled and boiled

2 cups of frozen mixed veggies

1 finely chopped onion

3 hard boiled eggs



3 egg yolks

1 tsp Dijon mustard

125ml vegetable oil

salt and pepper

few drops of truffle oil


  • Dice the boiled potatoes into bite-size cubes
  • Steam the veggies
  • Mix all the ingredients in a glass mixing bowl lined with clingwrap and press into the base of it.
  • Place it fridge for an hour to set
  • In the mean time make the mayo: whip eggs with mustard and seasoning and gradually add the oil until it thickens
  • De-mould the tuna mix by placing a flat plate on the open side of the bowl and flipping it over.
  • Pour the mayonnaise over the tuna mound and garnish with sliced boiled eggs.