Cape Town is home to a thriving community of food bloggers, and I am constantly impressed by the work published by us folk down here at the tip of Africa. One of these local talents is Hein Van Tonder, who blogs over at Heinstirred.
I first came across Heinstirred last year after the 2013 South African National Cookie Swap. Following the event, the organiser (Ishay from Food And The Fabulous) posted a round up of some of the recipes from the day, including a recipe called Cowboy Cookies. Intrigued, I clicked on the link only to discover Hein's delightful blog... I have been drooling ever since!
I love the range of the recipes on the site, the kind of recipes that I like to cook at home. Have a look at Hein's twist on two of my all time favourite dishes: Celebration Chicken Pie and Lemon Meringue - oh my! This week I find out a little more about Hein, the man behind the scenes, and he shares one of his luscious ice cream recipes. Temperatures have been soaring in Cape Town, and I couldn't think of anything better to enjoy in this weather! I have also been meaning to make home made ice cream all summer so this post seemed like the perfect excuse for a well overdue go at the old gelato.
|Meet Hein, gourmet hunter and ice cream maker extraordinaire|
If you have an ice cream maker that is ideal, but do not despair if you don't have one! I allowed the mixture to cool slightly before tipping into a container and popping it in the freezer. I used a stick blender (a sturdy whisk and some muscle power is just as good) to churn the mixture at regular intervals as it froze. Keep an eye on the mixture and as you see it starting to freeze around the edges give it a good whisk. A bit more work, but the ice cream was super creamy - result!
1.) Congratulations on a beautiful blog! Why did you decide to start "Heinstirred" in 2012?
Thank you so much Teresa! I’ve been searching for a creative outlet for quite some time. I really enjoyed photography and in the last few years became quite interested in the art of food styling and had a number of food blogs I’d usually visit. So it was born out of all those things.
The initial photographs are terrible and it also took a while to get comfortable writing recipes. I lacked quite a bit of confidence and then did a workshop with Russel Wasserfall and Sam Linsell to gain more of an understanding of food photography and styling. And after that I made a commitment to myself to keep practising and do at least one post a week.
2.) Going back a little bit, when did you first discover your passion for cooking? What was it that sparked your love for food?
I am sure I was born really hungry and with a desire to make food. There are some very embarrassing home movies of me as a podgy toddler happily eating spoonful after spoonful of pumpkin (which is still one of my favourite vegetables). I loved cooking from a young age and was lucky that my mom always allowed me in the kitchen.
3.) What have been the highlights of blogging so far?
That people actually like what I am doing! And everyone I’ve been in contact with has been so kind and generous. It takes a lot more courage (and dishes to be washed!) than I thought to put something out there but when you get a message from a complete stranger who loves what you do it is really magic. Oh, and seeing my recipes and photos on Food24.com (thank you Caro!)
4.) Tell us a bit about your creative process, where do you get your inspiration when creating a new dish?
It usually starts with what I want to photograph and then fit that in with whatever time of year we find ourselves in. As I look at other blogs, pinterest and recipe books etc I make a list of things that I’d like to do for the blog (and what I want to eat). I then play with the idea in my head for a while, write a basic recipe, make the dish, write a more detailed recipe as I make it, style it and photograph it. It’s usually a one day exercise from beginning to downloading the pics. I then don’t look at the pics for a week and only do some editing then.
5.) I love the variety of recipes on your blog - everything from healthy salads to meat to decadent sweet treats. If you had to pick a favourite though do you prefer preparing sweet or savoury dishes?
Sweet! Without a doubt. I do try to make the sweet dishes really special and have rediscovered my love for baking through the blog.
6.) If I was to peek inside your kitchen cupboards what are some of the ingredients I would always be likely to find? What are your kitchen essentials?
Olive oil. Vanilla extract. Ground almonds. A bottle of home made Bahārāt spice mix (which is my new favourite thing and goes on or in everything at the moment). A few bottles of chilli jam which I make once a year. There has to be an emergency bottle of bubbly in the fridge. And ice cream.
7.) Your food photographs are quite simply mouth-watering, and have been published on popular food sites like foodgawker and TasteSpotting. Do you spend a lot of time searching for props and composing the perfect shot?
Thank you – that is so nice to hear. Those sites are a bit of a necessary evil aren't they - I wonder sometimes how much hate mail they get!
I usually have a good idea of the composition once I have decided what I will be making and lately the ideas seem to work! I also try to vary the composition and feel as much as possible from one post to the next and to just enjoy the process. If I get stressed that it is not working the way I thought it would I just remind myself that essentially I am doing it for me. Nobody is paying so just relax.
I have slowly been building up a prop collection. Flea markets and home stores are some of my least favourite places but will usually make a flying visit to Milnerton Market and see if something catches my eye. And I will browse home stores once in a while to see what they have. I do try not to spend too much money on it. I've had some background boards made which is very handy and have now started playing with fabric to soften my photos a bit.
8.) Tell us about some of your favourite foodie spots in and around Cape Town.
I love Orinoco on Bree Street. Overture is my favourite fine dining spot. De Grendel is a favourite as well. I am addicted to ice cream so it is always nice to see what The Creamery gets up to. I must admit that I have not done the markets for a while but The Palms is a relaxed favourite. I will hit Neighbourgoods very early on a Saturday to get some bread from Woodstock Bakery, a scoop from The Creamery and then get out of there!
9.) Describe a typical day in the life of Hein.
Ha! Incredibly boring! I work from home so in the office at 7am and usually go to gym around 9. Then it is back in the office. And work is interspersed with quite a bit of time on Twitter (!) One day a week is set aside for a new post on the blog and I then do cook, style and photograph a whole post.
10.) And finally, do you have any parting words for aspiring cooks out there?
Eat! Taste! Cook! If it flops you can either cover it in a white sauce and make a pie, or make trifle.
Without further ado, let's get onto the all important ice cream. You can the find original recipe and Hein's inspiration by clicking here.
HONEY ROASTED NECTARINE & LAVENDER ICE-CREAM
By Hein van Tonder
8 tsp honey
250ml whipping cream
1 tin (385g) condensed milk
15 lavender leaves
1 tsp vanilla extract
15 lavender leaves
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp honey
pinch of salt
Step 1.) Preheat your oven to 200°C. Halve and stone the nectarines. Add a teaspoon of honey to each nectarine cavity. Roast for 30 minutes and the set aside to cool. Blitz in a food processor - not too much so that you still have small pieces of nectarine in the ice cream.
Step 2.) Place the cream, milk, 3/4 of the condensed milk, lavender leaves and vanilla extract in a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Turn off the heat.
Step 3.) Whisk the egg yolks and remaining condensed milk together until pale and thick. Add a ladle of the cream mixture (avoid adding the lavender leaves) to the egg and whisk well. Add another two ladles of cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking well between each addition.
Step 4.) Whisk the egg mixture back into the remaining cream mixture in the saucepan, and stir over a low heat for approximately 15 minutes, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
Step 5.) Pour the mixture through a sieve to remove the lavender leaves which you can discard. Add the processed nectarines, a tablespoon of honey and salt. Mix well and leave to cool for at least 6 hours. Churn in an ice cream machine as per manufacturers instructions.