There’s a certain tasty twist in the tale of authentic boerekos
Inside Annelien Pienaar’s homegrown cookbook
Some South Africans argue that we don’t have a traditional food. And they’re right – we do not have a specific, defining menu – we have many. While French food, say, or Italian food is easier to catagorise and define, South African food reflects the melting pot reality of this country.
Some say boerewors is the ultimate South African food, but others would say it’s pap and mogodu. Curry is widely enjoyed; so is biltong and bunny chow.
What is certain is that South Africans should open their minds and send their stomachs on a recce to sample the traditional food of different cultural groups.
Annelien Pienaar is a lecturer, author, food stylist, blogger and recipe developer whose main focus is on healthy, wholesome eating. Her new book Boerekos with a Twist celebrates her “country girl” origins, recreating the dishes of her late mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.“My mother was an adventurous cook and, with her strong background in home economics, she would often perk up a dish with some kind of interesting little surprise – country cooking with a twist, is what we called it. And, oh boy, did we eat well,” she says.
Pienaar says that over the course of her cooking carreer she discovered the need for a cookbook that would also teach the reader basic skills in the kitchen. “I involve my children in the food preparation and my recipes are easy to prepare and produce – from the home cook and adventurous food enthusiast to the advanced chef.”
In 2015 Pienaar started a Facebook page, uploading her family recipes onto the page and “before I knew it, these ‘recipes with a lesson’ were spreading like wildfire”.Each chapter starts with useful information about the style of food discussed in that section. For example, in chapter three: Meat and fish, she says: “Think of how an animal grazes. The animal’s head and neck is bent downwards for most of the time and this front section of the animal is very strong and well muscled. The meat from the forequarter, which carries most of the weight, tends to be tougher but it is also more flavoursome than the hindquarter.”
These tidbits of information, gleaned from Pienaar’s extensive experience, make the book unique – along with, of course, the recipe choices themselves. Beef and beer potjie with dumplings looks perfect for a cold winter night next to the fire, and coriander biltong or Granny Hantie’s pork scratchings look like interesting dishes to attempt.The baking section is extensive, including some of the usual suspects like koeksisters and traditional sweet mosbeskuit. But there is so much else too: amasi rusks; cinnamon and pecan dreams; rocky road fudge; and Meraai’s Jewish tart, to name a few.Pienaar’s book has an entire chapter devoted to scones and pies (which includes a baked biltong cheesecake) and another one just for desserts (excluding baking). In the latter you’ll find a guava foam tart and sticky toffee pudding among the offerings.
And no book put together by an Afrikaans chef would be complete without a chapter on bottling and preserving, teaching you how to make dried peach chutney and rooibos lemonade.