Tomato & Thyme Tartlets

I am a sucker for a good ol’ savoury treat, especially when it involves sweet cherry tomatoes, good pastry and fresh herbs. I made these mini tomato tartlets for a spring day party that a client was having. I love spring…the blossoms, the warmer days (but still cool enough for a snuggle and a jersey)…picnics, lazy days with a book in the sun. I’d love to share this recipe with you, I took bits and pieces of other recipes and then made up my own combination. The pastry is so simple to make and really yummy. It is buttery and crumbly and just ‘oh so good!’ Definitely better than store bought pastry so I encourage you to try it. have fun, enjoy this, it is really simply and can also be made into a bigger tart if you prefer. Be creative, use what you have….if you want to add more cheese then go ahead and basil or thyme will be good so just use whatever herbs are available. 🙂 I love recipes that are a little flexible. Here you go…. go wild…

Makes 1 x 22cm tart or 16 mini tartlets

1. Butter a 22cm tart pan with a removable bottom or  mini pie pan (I used the shallow pan that I usually use for fruit mince pies)


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • 7 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter chopped. (use real butter)
  • 1/2 cup cold cream

2. In a food processor, pulse flour with a pinch of salt and the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Add the cream and pulse until the dough nearly comes together. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 min.

3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Tomato filling:

  • about 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP chopped thyme or herb of choice
  • salt and pepper

4. While waiting for pastry to chill, chop up a few cherry tomatoes and throw them into a bowl with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, herbs and seasoning. Mix around and put aside so the flavours really blend together.

5. Roll out the dough and place into large pan, trimming any excess, or cut out for smaller mini pan with cookie cutter. Prick the pastry a few times with a fork.

6. Place the tomatoes into shells. face them with their seeds upwards so they do not wet pastry too much. If you want to, you can add feta or goats cheese at this point.

7. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 20 minutes for the mini tartlets or 30 for large. I just watch it to see the pastry is a beautiful colour and the tomatoes look nice and juicy.

8. You can also add cheese afterwards, which is what I did for the tartlets above. Garnish with a fresh sprig of herbs.

And there you go…some yummy tomato tartlets to snack on.

A jolly good idea

These past few years have caused many to become resourceful with gift ideas. Irritations like fuel hikes, recessions and costs of necessities, have rocketed into unknown space and require us to approach birthdays with an extra creativity. Many blogs are now filled with DIY ideas, one of which is “Gift Jars”.

So whether you are creative or not, the free printable labels, soap recipes and baking kits advised to us can make even the left-brainer among us appear to be brilliantly inventive when it comes to making a gift for their friend. I love making gifts like these…something personal, something unique and creative….something that shows an extra effort and care.

More and more I receive orders for gift jars filled with yummy cookies….for dad, for mom, for the cousin about to have a baby. And even when I’m in doubt of what to gift a friend when it’s nearing month end…I can always bake up a storm and present them with a gift of tasty decorated biscuits.

Over the next few months I’ll be showing you the biscuits that have filled recent jars….bright ones, pastel ones, girly ones….

I love this gift and I love packaging and preparing them…and seeing the look on the face of the lucky recipient.

Hello Kitty


“Her real name is Kitty White, a bright and kind-hearted cat. She is good at baking cookies and loves Mama’s homemade apple pie. She likes to collect cute things and her favorite subjects in school are English, music and art.”

I love this little feline, she’s so sweet and kind and when reading about her personality, I could relate to her love for baking cookies and art. My niece, Arielle (above), went through her hello kitty phase and asked for this cake for her second birthday. Now you have to know that my niece has this sweet gruff voice and sounds like she is purring when she says “helloooo kittyyy”. It’s just so adorable. So for Arielle’s 2nd birthday, which she shares with her sister who is two years older, Arielle had this cake. It was marbled pink and purple inside and everyone loved it.

Since this cake I received more Hello Kitty orders, some cookies too. Hello Kitty has inspired the themes of restaurants and even hospitals, she has her own music album and tv show. This famous cat, lover of apple pies, is now also one of my favourites to replicate in the kitchen…I’ll have to watch some of her shows with my sweet niece.



ice-creams for winter

I’m loving the collection of cookie cutters I am starting to build up in my baking cupboard. These ice-cream cones are among my favourite. I also started adding some sprinkles to the ones I made after I took this photograph. I just love that even when its freezing cold and wintery, we can still enjoy this “summery” looking biscuit. My husband even commented that the cone tasted like real cones…haha!

These cookies would be especially fun for a kids party or even a summery colourful wedding favour. Image

A Smurf Collection – the blue cake

ImageOk you might be wondering what smurfs have to do with baking and why on earth I am talking about this on my blog. It may be arbitrary, but so is life and the things we draw inspiration from.

My husband collects smurfs, not the new badly made models that have recently made a come-back, but the old worn collectable “made in germany” ones scavenged in Hospice shops and Markets. Smurfs that you or I would have played with … know…back in the day. His collection has reached about 20 and the smurfs live on top of our old piano, also scavenged in an old dusty garage.

And so, when I baked a blue gradient cake for my hubby’s 31st birthday then it was not long before it was named the “Smurf Cake”. This blue gradient cake was loved by adults and kids alike for its colour and arbitrariness. I covered it in a dark chocolate butter icing, often found on my husband’s fingers when I turn my back to ice a cupcake.

I think the next smurf I find for the collection will be one called “celebratory Smurf” and it’s hugging a giant cake! sounds familiar…


Biscuits for a celebration.

I recently learnt how to ice biscuits beautifully by doing 
a class taught by the talented Roxanne Floquet. Her biscuits 
are beautiful to say the least, they are her art, delicate, 
intricate and exciting. I am nowhere near her level of skill, 
these biscuits take a lot of time and practice to get them 
to the level of perfection that she can achieve. 

Now that I know how to ice these biscuits, I take great joy 
in presenting them to friends as gifts in a classic Consol
jar, laced with ribbon and a label. They are loved and also
super tasty.

These biscuits in the photographs were made with lots of love
for my friend, Inez, who recently got married. 

If you are interested in ordering some fun cookies for your 
next event or even just for your home, dont hesitate to 
contact me, my husband will love to eat the leftovers ;) 
He has dubbed them "the best zoo biscuits ever". 

The pretty photo under the heading is from the wedding, 
taken by my talented husband, Sean Kelland.

Chocolate Cheesecake

To start off the new year I shall introduce you to one of my favourite recipe books on my kitchen shelf – Neil Roake’s “Shiny Happy People.” This recipe book contains a collection of Neil’s “odd and varied” friends, their stories and their best home meals. Their stories are accompanied by some beautiful photography of their homes and kitchens. From classic Tarte Tartin to some adventurous and beautiful liquorice ice-cream, some food from an Iranian couple and even simple tasty meals the kids will love such as Ruote pasta with boerewors. This South African book uses some good local Afrikaans words such as “bakkie” instead of “tub” and makes you feel part of the family. The book is full of great quotes about food, my best being “Steak is my favourite animal.”

Neil’s friend, Catherine, from Kleinfontein in the Western Cape shared some lovely farmhouse treats – hot cross buns, buttermilk banana pancakes, a great roast chicken and my subject for today – chocolate cheesecake! I baked this cake for my mom’s birthday! And WOW! Creamy, smooth and incredible like any cheesecake…but with the richness of dark chocolate and topped with pistachio nuts.

A well written, beautifully designed, and well conceived book. Thank you Neil Roake! I have read every story from cover to cover and cant wait to try something new, perhaps the tequila lime chicken wings followed by orange chiffon cupcake. To get the recipe of the below Chocolate cheese cake, see the website here and order this amazing book for your collection!

Grapefruit Curd


I’ve always loved lemon curd and when I found this recipe I knew I had to try it. This recipe is very simple and the jars, once labeled nicely could make a really great gift. This Christmas all my friends and family are getting home-made preserves, and grapefruit curd will definitely be under the Christmas tree.

Enjoy making this simple, sweet and also bitter curd. My favorite way of eating it is just on a piece of toast, but its incredible spread over a simple cheesecake.


Grapefruit Curd

makes about 650g.


Rind and juice of one grapefruit.

115g butter

200g castor sugar

4 large eggs, lightly beaten.


Place rind, juice, butter and sugar into heatproof bowl over simmering water.

Heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Add beaten eggs, strained through a sieve.

Whisk immediately , then stir with wooden spoon over a low hear until the mixture thickens and coats spoon.

Pour into warm, sterilized jars. (Jars can be sterilized in the oven or completely cover jars and lids in boiling water until ready to use.)


Once the jars have cooled down, label and store in a cool, dark place like refrigerator. Use within 3 months. yum yum enjoy!!!