Late Summer at de Kuilen Country House

Late Summer at de Kuilen Country House

Late Summer at de Kuilen Country House

Breakfast higlight:

Strawberry and Raspberry Limoncello Spritz (6 to 8 glasses)
with Grilled Smoky Halloumi (add Pesto dip if you like)
adapted from the “Real Meal Revolution” (Dr. Tim Noakes’s Banting book)

Dinner favourite:

Fricassee of Chicken with Figs and Port Sauce
an adaptation taken from Roger Verge’s ‘Entertaining in the French Style’

Dessert favourite:

Soft Pink Pavlova with Blueberries and raspberries
adapted from “The Great South African Cookbook”, 2016 edition



Strawberry and Raspberry Limoncello Spritz (6 to 8 glasses) with Grilled Smoky Halloumi and Pesto dip

Strawberry and Raspberry LimoncelloFor the Strawberry Limoncello

6 radishes                                                                        16 mint leaves
50 g Caster sugar                                                            ice cubes
1 lime sliced + one lime for decorating glass                   250ml limoncello
3 fresh gherkin sized cucumbers cut thin                    1 bottle Cape champagne (or cranberry juice or both mixed)
80g mixed strawberries and raspberies                       soda water for serving

Chill all ingredients.
Using a sharp mandolin shred radishes and toss with caster sugar. Reserve until just before serving.
Divide the fruit and mint between glasses and pour limoncello over it.
Just before serving,  add splash of soda to top up. Squeeze juice of remaining lime and moisten each glass.
Carefully pat the reserved radish trim onto the glasses’ rims – it looks sensational!

Grilled Smoky Halloumi

For the Hot Smoky Rub

1 tsp cumin                                                                              ¼  tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika                                                             ½  tsp salt
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds                                                   1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp each dried thyme and origanum

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

For the Halloumi

400g halloumi cut into 8 mm slices                                       ½  cup olive oil

Place a griddle pan on the heat and warm it until smoking.
Combine the hot smoky rub & olive oil, then toss with the halloumi
Grill each piece of cheese on the griddle for about 1 minute per side.
(They should char on the outside but just about hold their shape. Serve immediately.

Note: If you are doing a huge batch of these you can lay them on a tray in the oven and warm them all under the Grill just before you serve.

Fricasee of chicken with figs in port sauce

Fricassee of Chicken with Figs and Port Sauce

In February the favourite main dish, liked the most by our clients, was this lovely essence of Summer from the South of France, based on the figs from our Fig tree, about 15 years old and covered in fruit from Spring to early March. The black figs seem to fruit later in the season and are still available in Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths, now in March.


12 large figs                                                   2 chickens (as large as possible)
1 ¼ cups port wine                                        Salt & Freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves                                                   1 cup unsalted butter (8 Tbsp)
2 tsp. coriander seeds                                    3 Tbsp very finely chopped shallots
1 celery rib & 3 cloves garlic                         2 cubes chicken stock (we use Nomu Fond concentrate, diluted as directed.)
1 ¼ cups wild rice

The day before:

  1. Marinate the figs in port and a bay leaf for 24 hours in a large jar with a tight lid, outside the refrigerator, unless it is a very hot day when it should be in the fridge for half the day.
  2. Place coriander seeds in a small pan and toast to release flavours over a high (dry) heat.
    Roll up the seeds in 2 layers of paper towel and crush to a fine powder with a rolling-pin.
  3. Dice the celery & crush the garlic cloves.
  4. Divide the chickens into 6 pieces each & season with salt and pepper. Break up wing ends, necks, carcasses & reserve for stock meat to make the sauce.
  5. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large casserole over medium heat. Saute over medium high heat until golden brown all over and remove. Add stock meat pieces to the same casserole and brown, briefly add shallots. Pour off excess butter and return casserole to the heat.
  6. Add rest of ingredients but only half of the port. Return the chicken pieces to casserole, and simmer for 30 minutes over very low heat. Then add the stock cubes and 2/3 cup water or diluted fond. Stir, simmering uncovered for 10 minutes, then strain, removing stock vegetables and stock meat. Pour the strained liquid back over the chicken in the casserole and set aside.
  7. Reduce the remaining half of the port over medium heat until only 2 Tbsp of thick syrup remains.
  8. 25 minutes to serving: cook rice in salted water.
  9. Now place marinated figs in reduced port syrup over very low heat, rolling them to give them a shiny coat, while chicken warms over very low heat – no further reduction!
  10. Plate chicken on warmed platter and keep warm. Place sauce into small pot and gradually add, to your taste, between 4 and 9 Tbsp butter, cut small, to the sauce, whisking briskly. Spoon sauce over chicken and place figs on top. Use remaining butter stirred into rice, to individual taste, and serve with the chicken.

Note: If you have a fig tree you can cover the platter with beautiful leaves before plating

This might seem like a lot of effort – but it is worth it! I first learned about it in my class at Moulin de Mougins.

Soft Pink Pavlova with Blueberries and Raspberries

This was our winning dessert for Spring, but our thinly sliced berries, mangoes and pears au naturel were not far behind!


4 large free-range egg-whites          600g raspberries mixed with 2 Tbsp blue berries
¼ (or less) red food colouring         whipped cream and more blueberries for serving
220 g caster sugar                            icing sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C.

  1. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper or a silicone mat.
  2. Use a large mixing bowl on your electric beater, to slowly beat the eggs until they become foamy, then increase the speed until stiff peaks form.
  3. Continue with high speed to whisk in the food colouring, and caster sugar, a little at a time until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
  4. Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour. Turn off the oven but leave it to crisp up a bit on the outside for a few hours.
  5. Process the raspberries and some blueberries into a sauce, strain through a very fine sieve and add caster sugar to taste.
  6. Whip the cream into soft peaks, prepare to serve it and the coulis in separate small jugs, scatter the blueberries generously over the dish and dust with icing sugar.

This delicious meringue forms a light crust that cracks, revealing the shiny pink soft centre.