The season for comfort food is well on its way, and with that in mind, Chef Charmaine Lilje has created some recipes that are sure to satisfy. Using fresh, seasonal ingredients, these dishes are simple to make and ideal for sharing — enjoy them with family and friends — and savour the nourishing flavours.

Coconut and peanut butter date balls (makes 20)


  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1 cup sugar free peanut butter
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut toasted
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon date syrup
  • ¼ vanilla pod deseeded
  • ½ cup toasted desiccated coconut – extra for rolling


  1. Soak dates in warm water for 30 minutes
  2. Blend all the ingredients together except the additional coconut for rolling
  3. Cool overnight in the fridge
  4. Roll into small balls and then roll in the additional toasted coconut
  5. Keep in an airtight container in your fridge


Thai red vegetable curry with noodles (serves 6)


  • 4 tbs vegetable oil
  • ½ onion thinly sliced
  • ½ garlic clove crushed
  • ½ tsp ginger grated
  • 2 tsp red curry paste
  • 1 litre veg stock (homemade or bought)
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 2 baby corn, thinly sliced, julienne
  • 2 baby carrots, thinly sliced, julienne
  • 4 baby aubergines quartered
  • 100g sugar snap peas
  • A handful of shimeji mushrooms
  • 2 spring onions sliced longways
  • 1 cup baby spinach washed
  • 1 cup rice/egg noodles precooked and ready
  • 20g fresh chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesames (black or white), optional


  1. Heat a medium sized pot over a medium heat
  2. Add the oil, onion, garlic, ginger and red curry paste, cook for 2 minutes
  3. Turn the heat to high and add the vegetable stock
  4. Reduce the stock by half and add the coconut milk
  5. Turn the heat back to medium heat and add all the vegetables
  6. Cook for 5 minutes
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste
  8. Add the precooked noodles
  9. Serve hot with some fresh coriander and toasted sesame seeds


Poached nectarines with whipped coconut cream (serves 6)


  • 2 cups verjuice
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cardamom
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 6 nectarines – firm
  • 2 tins coconut cream – kept in fridge over night
  • 2 tbs icing sugar
  • 50g almonds toasted
  • A few mint leaves


  1. In a medium 5l sized pot add the verjuice, water, cardamom, castor sugar and cinnamon stick, bring to boil
  2. Add the nectarines, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes
  3. Allow the fruit to cool in the liquid, great to do the day before
  4. Remove the fruit, place in fridge until cool
  5. Bring the poaching liquid to the boil and reduce by half or until sticky – keep aside to cool
  6. Once cooled, for an extra flavour sensation, grill the nectarines on a griddle pan for 1 minute flesh side down
  7. Take coconut cream out the fridge and scoop off the cream, leave the liquid in the tin behind; whip in a KitchenAid mixer over a high speed until fluffy and add the icing sugar
  8. Refrigerate until ready to serve dessert
  9. In a bowl add a nectarine, drizzle some syrup and a dollop of coconut cream, sprinkle some toasted almonds


Chef Charmaine Lilje runs two foodie havens in Cape Town — Chardonnay Deli in Constantia and Dalebrook Café in Kalk Bay. Chardonnay Deli is best described as an upmarket farmstall and deli that serves up a scrumptious offering of light meals. The menu includes farm-style breakfasts and lunches, as well as a selection of homemade baked goods. All the cakes are baked on-site, and the range includes something for everyone, from vegan coconut chocolate cake with espresso and sugar-free carrot cake to rustic apple crumble with home-stewed apples, and an indulgent white chocolate and lime cheesecake.

Dalebrook Café, located in Kalk Bay, is a farmstall, bakery and rustic restaurant that serves a wide range of healthy and homemade products. With its picturesque sea views, the space is ideal for a leisurely coffee and cake or stay a while and enjoy a meal. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch daily and is now open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. If you’re just passing by, be sure to pick up a super juice or smoothie, or for a special treat, indulge in a homemade ice cream made with milk from the nearby Noordhoek dairy.