Cook and Book

Fait Maison: Gâteaux
Thomas Feller

This was the very first French recipe book I bought while living in France.  It is written in a clear, easy language and includes all the classic recipes and techniques you will need to make perfect French cakes, tarts, muffins, pastries and even the French version of cake lollies.  

​The first section of the book includes the base pastries (pâte sucrée, brisée, sablée) and then moves on to the classic fillings, custards, ice cream, coulis and syrups.  

The second section is devoted to cakes: Marble cake, yoghurt, orange.  Each recipe offers a variation and/or replacement ingredients which leaves room for the baker to personalise their cake.  

The third section of the book focuses on small cakes (Petits Gâteaux) and includes classics like Cannelés, Financiers and Petits Babas au Rhum.

The last section in the book is dedicated to the vast selection of French tarts:  Chocolate, Lemon, Rhubarb, Apple…. and so on.

It is a lovely basic book to have in your arsenal and brilliant as a point of reference.  True French baking at its best!

​Fait Maison: Gâteaux by Thomas Feller

ISBN:  978-2-01-238284-8

Published by Hachette Cuisine

Photographs by Philippe Vaurès-Santamaria

Styling by Garlone Bardel



Lesego Semenya

Love may be the universal language but the love of food is the universal open hand, reaching across cultures, inviting us to experience through taste, memory, reflection of lifestyle and often the author/chef/cook’s life journey.

I first picked up the book Dijo without knowing anything about its author, Lesego Semenya. ( I did however know that Dijo is the Tswana word for food). I bought the book because it was obvious that the author lives in Johannesburg, where I am originally from.

This recipe book does a brilliant job of pulling together South African cuisine in all its diversity without loosing any of its honesty.  The chef himself was a judge on Top Chef South Africa, trained at one of the elite culinary schools in the country and has received awards for outstanding achievements.  But what sells this book to me is the food.  

I have earmarked many recipes: Ledombolo (dumpling is the closest I can get..), Mageu which I remember drinking as a child, Makipkip, Frozen Strawberry yoghurt, Butternut Soup, Inkomazi Panna Cotta, Magwinya which is the township version of vetkoek and which my kids absolutely love and my favourite, Creamed Spinach My Way.

This book now has a permanent place on my bedside table.  Lesego has an easy writing style which makes me feel that I have eaten at the table with him.  His honesty and love of food shines through every page and he does take the snobbery out of food and puts back the taste.

If you want to experience what real South Africans eat, this is the book for you.

Dijo by Lesego Semenya

Published by Jacana Media

ISBN:  978-1-4314-2687-4

Photography:  Claire Gunn 


Wine Estate

I am lucky enough to live in Stellenbosch, arguably the most beautiful town in South Africa, surrounded by more than 150 world class wine estates.  One of my top three estates have always been Delheim.  Apart from their excellent wines the estate has a fabulous restaurant with exquisite views for long, leisurely afternoons of al fresco lunches with way too much wine.  Mushrooms have always featured on the menu but ten years ago they decided to open their pine forest once a year for a very small number of mushroom foragers to join in an educational talk, a wild mushroom hunt and a mushroom-themed lunch.  This event is so popular that one feels as though you’ve won the olympics race if you manage to be one of the chosen few to manage to get a booking.  I need not tell you that it is an event to remember.  

Due to the Covid19 lockdown there was to be no foraging this year but once again the team at Delheim came through.  You can order in some of the bounty of last year!  The Delheim Mushroom Experience in a Box is beautifully packaged and includes every ingredient for Porcini mushroom risotto, three bottles of the estate’s wine and a field guide to mushroom foraging.  

​Delheim Wild Mushroom Experience-in-a-Box



Liam Tomlin

Liam Tomlin is my favourite South African chef and as far as I’m concerned, the rock star of the local culinary scene.  I longed to work in one of his kitchens when I finished chefs school, but a second best is cooking from his recipe books and frequenting his eateries.

  An afternoon spent at Chefs Warehouse & Canteen in Cape Town, or Chefs Warehouse at Maison in Franschhoek, never fails to leave me in awe.  I am in love with the tastes, textures and combination of ingredients and needless to say, look forward to going back even before I have walked out of the door.

​His latest recipe book in my collection is TAPAS.  The book represents the way I prefer to eat: small portions, a wide variety of foods and cooking styles and the unique creative flair that he has become known for.  I can have the Pumpkin Risotto and Arancini for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The subtleness and flavours are exquisite, the textures and contrasts made in heaven.  The stuffed chicken wings, white chocolate and passion fruit crème brûlée and steamed fish curry with crispy fried shallots are heavenly, but then again, so is every single recipe in this book.  It is not easy to choose a few favourites….this is an ongoing project.  You need the book. You need to start at page one and work your way through it.  You absolutely have to taste this food!  And if you are in doubt whether you got the dish exactly as it should be, you can always wander over to Chefs Warehouse and spent a leisurely afternoon tasting your way through the menu.

​TAPAS by Liam Tomlin

Published by Penguin Random House South Africa

ISBN:  978-1-43231-075-2

Armand Aucamp

This might sound like a cliché but Armand Aucamp is truly beautiful on the outside as well as the inside. I worked with Armand during the Stellenbosch Woordfees and he made a huge impression on me.  His energy is contagious, he breathes compassion, he is extremely generous, sensitive, fun to be with and passionate about everything that he does. 

 He certainly is no stranger to South Africans: known for his acting on television, the big screen and the stage; amongst his Afrikaans speaking audience, featuring in Sterlopers, Ballade vir ‘n enkeling and Die Boekklub; his cooking programme called Armand Kook Kaal (Cooking Naked with Armand), as featured on the Afrikaans lifestyle channel Via.

Through this cooking programme a recipe book was born:  Nude.  Professor Tim Noakes describes the book as: “Unquestionably one of the very best low-carb recipe books anywhere in the world”.  High praise indeed and having to highlight a few recipes, impossible!  You need the entire book!!

If banting and Keto is part of your lifestyle you cannot live without the Blue cheese salad with pancetta and walnuts, cream cheese-and-biltong balls, Cheese chips, Mediterranean “broken” eggs, French toast with brinjal, Eggs in avocados, and, and, and.  

Do yourself a favour: buy the book.  

​NUDE by Armand Aucamp

Published by LAPA Publishers (Pty) Ltd

ISBN: 978 0 7993 9349 1

Text:  Armand Aucamp

Photography: Donna Lewis