Spicy-chicken-caprese-salad

With the beginning of a season comes the inspiration to try something new, so why not start in the kitchen? Chef Charmaine Lilje has put together some fresh flavours, ideal for spring. As the weather warms, whip up some spicy dishes paired with light, crispy greens; and swap rich soups for a cool gazpacho. When it comes to treats, you can’t go wrong with seasonal fruits — pack some sweet berries into a batch of wholesome muffins for a tasty snack.

Chef Charmaine Lilje is the proud owner of two Cape Town favourites — Chardonnay Deli and Dalebrook Café. Both of these foodie havens characterise Charmaine’s love for authentic dishes made with fresh ingredients and lots of love.

At Dalebrook Café near Kalk Bay, you can expect a breakfast menu packed with nutritious and tasty choices — think avo smash with sourdough rye, salmon gravlax and poached eggs; a raw energy bowl made with almond butter, banana, apples, dates, flaxseeds, honey and coconut milk; and fresh oysters. The café also serves up some great lunchtime dishes, like a falafel bowl with roasted aubergine, brown rice, hummus, slaw and salsa; pork belly with citrus jus; and mussels with cream and white wine.

Located in an upmarket farmstall in Constantia, Chardonnay Deli serves light meals, as well as a selection of homemade rustic cakes and breads. All of their baked goods are made onsite, so you won’t want to miss the chance to try a slice — think lemon with yoghurt icing; vegan coconut chocolate cake with espresso; and baked cheesecake with assorted toppings, including berry, caramel, chocolate and passion fruit.

Spicy chicken caprese salad
with black sesame and sweet chilli dressing

Serves 4

Chicken prep
4 free-range chicken breasts
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp medium curry powder
2 tsp brown sugar or honey
2 tsp chopped, fresh coriander
100 ml olive oil
½ lemon squeezed

For frying
100ml vegetable oil
20g butter

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and rub the chicken fillets with the marinade, allow the chicken to marinade for 4-12 hours or overnight
  2. Preheat a frying pan over a medium high heat
  3. Add the oil and then the butter and allow the butter to brown
  4. Place the seasoned chicken breasts in the pan and fry each side for 5 minutes
  5. Remove from the heat, allow to cool 

Dressing prep

4 tbsp sweet chilli
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tsp honey
½ lemon squeezed
1 tsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped coriander
4 drops sesame seed oil
2 tsp toasted and chopped cashew nuts

  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well 

Salad prep
1 cucumber sliced
200g cherry tomatoes cut in half
½ purple onion thinly sliced
1 orange segmented
2 avo’s cubed and dressed with a good drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of ½ lemon
100g mozzarella cubed
A handful of basil leaves
4 tsp black toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Combine all the salad ingredients together, the more rustic the better
  2. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and gently toss
  3. Place the sliced chicken breasts on top of the salad
  4. Garnish with basil leaves and fresh lemon wedges

Tomato Gazpacho 

Serves 4

Tomato Gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 1 red pepper washed, deseeded, roughly chopped
  • 1 green pepper washed, deseeded, roughly chopped
  • 1 cucumber washed and roughly chopped
  • ½ purple onion peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 large fresh tomatoes washed and roughly chopped
  • 500ml tomato juice
  • 410g tin whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ fresh chilli chopped
  • 6 basil leaves
  • Vegetable stock as required
  • Basil pesto to garnish, optional

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients (except the vegetable stock) and blend until smooth
  2. Add vegetable stock as required if your gazpacho is too thick
  3. Season to taste
  4. Refrigerate until cold (great to do in advance for a dinner party)
  5. Serve with a dollop of basil pesto and some crusty homemade bread 

Banana, berry and flaxseed muffin

Makes 6

Banana,-berry-and-flaxseed-muffin

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 5 cups castor sugar
  • 20ml baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 100ml melted butter
  • 250ml almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3 ripe bananas smashed
  • 1 tsp flaxseeds

Method 

  1. Sift your flour and baking powder with cinnamon
  2. In a separate bowl add all your wet ingredients together including the banana and mix well
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until a batter has formed
  4. Grease your muffin tins
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin tins
  6. Place in preheated oven of 180C and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a skewer comes clean when you push through the middle
  7. Remove from the tin and allow to cool
  8. Serve with butter and raw honey