Lucky Tsotsi’s Bar and Shebeen, Sydney.

Tankwa.

Crêpes Suzette is a bona fide classic dessert, which means that it’s been around for a very long time, impervious to food fads and fashions. As I dip crêpes, front and back, in the gloriously decadent orange butter, I wonder who this Suzette was anyway?

Inventor or muse, I picture her an elegant, yet mischievous creature. Probably rich and definitely generous, her dinner parties would have been the talk of the town and she the toast of it. She would have been ample bosomed and slim-waisted, extravagant and outrageous, imaginative and flamboyant. Flirtatious and fashionable, she would have been a saucy force of nature, definitely more velvet than satin, more red wine than white. More chocolate than cheese.

Be that as it may I really regret not knowing Suzette.

Prepare the pancakes first, then the orange butter. Assemble, grill and flambé. Voila!

for the Pancakes

Ina Paarman’s recipe

To my mind Ina makes the best pancakes. They are thick and fluffy and wonderful. Julia makes a very refined dessert crêpe, but I haven’t yet gotten the hang of it and in any case, a slightly thicker crêpe does a wonderful job of absorbing the boozy orange butter that is at the heart of Crêpes Suzette. Here is Ina’s recipe.

3 cups flour

½ t salt

2  t baking powder

4 cups water

2 T sugar

1 egg

1 T vinegar

2 T oil

  1. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder 2 or 3 times. Make a well in the flour mixture.
  2. Mix the water, sugar, egg, vinegar and oil. Add gradually to the flour mixture, stirring and beating continuously with a wooden spoon, electric beater or food processor. If you cannot remove all the lumps, rub the batter through a sieve.

for the Orange Butter (Beurre d’Orange)

quantity: 3 cups

my adaptation of a Julia Child recipe

2 large oranges

½ cup sugar

250 gr unsalted butter

⅔ cup orange juice

45 ml orange liqueur (such as Triple Sec or Cointreau)

  1. Remove the orange zest (the orange part of the skin) from both oranges with a zester. You can also use a vegetable peeler and then cut the peel very finely.
  2. Use an electric mixer or hand blender to blend the sugar and the zest until very well integrated. You really want the sugar to absorb as much of the orange oil from the skin as possible.
  3. Add the butter and beat until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the orange juice and liqueur.

for the Crêpes Suzette

18 large crêpes or 32 small ones

3 cups orange butter

⅓ cup orange liqueur

⅓ cup brandy

  1. Heat the orange butter that you prepared in a large pan until bubbling and slightly caramelized.  This will take several minutes.
  2. Dip both sides of the crêpe in the hot butter. Fold it in half and then again so that you have a wedge shape. Arrange these in overlapping circles from the outside in on a large platter.
  3. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar, then heat in the oven at 190°C for 20 minutes.
  4. Combine the orange liqueur and brandy in a jug. Now for the best part: the flambé. I like to perform this piece of theatre at the table. Dim the lights, pour the booze over and set alight immediately! A ritual. When the flames die down, the edges of the crepes will be caramalised and crisp, the perfect foil for the orange buttery deliciousness that follows. It is rich and very boozy which is why three small crepes per person is more than enough.
  5. Graciously accept the applause and adoration of your guests!

“What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow. Our life is the creation of our mind.”

Buddha

Supper for 12 this evening and this time I get a chance to serve up all my classics. We all have them, our signature dishes. I’ll tease you with the menu, but I promise to report back with some photos tomorrow.

canapé: blinis with cured norwegian salmon and creme fresh

The salmon is home cured with orange salt, sugar and touch of orange liqueur, then sliced paper thin before it is united with a blini and a little dollop of creme fresh

starter: tomato consommé with tomato raisins and red onion ribbons

The intense flavour of this soup comes as a complete surprise to the uninitiated given the clear, colourless character of this beauty. My version is an adaptation from a recipe by Matt Moran.

main: chicken savoyarde, peppered fillet, new potatoes – buttered and herbed, rocket salad leaves coated in a honeyed dressing

Chicken Savoyarde; unctuous, moist bites of poached chicken exquisitely paired with tarragon, cream and gruyere. I would choose this as my last meal. New potatoes make an elegant showing with sea salt, butter and herbs fresh from the garden. So very simple to prepare.

dessert: crepes suzette 

I only discovered Julia Child a few years ago, but she has become my ultimate food hero. This is my homage to Jooolia. It will be very boozy, the lights will be turned off and the crepes flambéed – a beautiful, abundant blessing.

The wine we serve this evening was hand picked from Tokara and Thelema – wonderful wine estates in Stellenbosch, South Africa (I would like to assure you that we are very particular you know, we commit to tasting every sip to the very bottom of the glass before making our selection!)

A single, simple dish that accommodates all your carnivore, vegetarian, vegan and lactose intolerant friends and that will bring them all back for seconds? Really? You better believe it!

I love this dish for winter (this is the southern hemisphere). It is delicious, warming, filling, healthy and interesting. Your guests will enjoy assembling their bowls of broth according to taste and inclination by adding or omitting chunks of poached chicken, avocado, yogurt and of course, nachos. The soup itself is meat-free and dairy free. Best of all, you accommodate a wide range of dietary tastes with a single, very cost effective meal.

 

Serves 10 – 12

500     gr        haricot beans or black eyed beans, soaked overnight

1                      tomato

olive oil for frying

2 large           onions, finely diced

4 plump         garlic cloves, minced

2                     chilies, finely chopped

1                     red pepper, diced

a punnet        baby marrows, diced

10 ml              smoky paprika

15 ml              dried origanum

50 ml             tomato paste

6                      tomatoes, skin removed and chopped (or 2 tins whole tomatoes)

salt and pepper

6 cobs             sweetcorn (or two 400gr tins)

2 l                    water (or vegetable stock)

1 handful       fresh coriander, chopped

Poached Chicken

1                      chicken

2                      carrots

2                      celery sticks

1                      onion studded with cloves

a few               peppercorns

To serve

6 small            avocadoes, diced and seasoned with salt and pepper

250 ml             bulgarian yogurt

2 packets        nacho chips, plain or salsa flavour

Preparation

  1. Cook the beans for an hour or two until tender. Jamie Oliver recommends adding a tomato as the acid helps to make the beans tender. Drain.
  2. To poach the chicken cover with water, add carrots, celery sticks and onion, then cover and simmer very gently for about an hour. Let it cool down then remove the meat from the bone and cut into moist, bite sized morsels.  Serve separately in a bowl, warm or at room temperature. BONUS: In addition to moist, flavoursome chicken morsels, you are also rewarded with lots of lovely homemade chicken stock, a key element of domestic godliness!
  3. Heat some olive oil in a big pot and sweat the onions, garlic, chili, red pepper and baby marrow over a low heat until soft. Don’t let it brown.
  4. Turn the heat up and add the smokey parika. Fry for a minute until it releases its flavor and then add the origanum and tomato paste. Stir and fry for a few minutes more.
  5. Add the tomato, beans, sweet corn and water (or vegetable stock) and season to taste. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and let it simmer gently for about 40 minutes.
  6. Take the pot off the heat and stir the chopped coriander through.
  7. Serve piping hot with with bowls of poached chicken, avocado, yogurt and nacho chips. Allow your guests to assemble to taste.


Dish Up!

Take a bowl and help yourself to some avocado and chicken morsels. Spoon over the spicy bean and corn soup. Finish off with a generous dollop of yogurt and some nachos.

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.

Carl Sagan