This year sees the launch of a brand new fundraising initiative by The Darling Trust Dinner; a dinner and auction where Tannie Evita joins forces with Jenny Morris to bring guests a night of the wittiest entertainment combined with the best food imaginable and a chance to bid for some fabulous, generously donated auction lots.
Morris – aka the Giggling Gourmet – is one of South Africa’s most-loved food personalities, who expresses her passion for food through many different vocations; multiple cookbook author, magazine writer, radio broadcaster and TV presenter, celebrity chef, teacher, caterer and culinary tour guide, both locally and internationally. And if that wasn’t enough, Morris also runs her own much-lauded restaurant – Yumcious – with husband David in Cape Town’s Waterkant district.
Morris also often gives of her time and energy to raise funds for charity, a trait that started at a young age and which ultimately kicked off her love affair with food when, as a small girl, she prepared mouth-watering treats for fundraisers at her school.
We managed to corner Morris long enough to ask her a few questions:
Tell us a bit about your journey to achieving your goals of becoming South Africa’s Giggling Gourmet?
I always wanted to be chef but my late father was against it saying what kind of a job was this for a woman and would not pay for me to study cheffing. I decided when I left school I would “spite my father” by joining the Post Office Telecom division (now Telkom ), and trained as a telephone electrician and constructed exchanges. But I was determined to find a way into the food industry and approached a hotel so I could get into the hospitality industry knowing that If I started on the ground floor I would be able to work my way into the kitchen.
Tell us about The Cooks Playground
The Cooks Playground, the largest recreational cooking school in Africa, has become the favourite destination for our now famous TeamCooking™ events where food is the centre of a team building event and our cooking classes for anyone wanting to improve their cooking skills. Other activities include hen’s parties , baby showers, cooking parties, product launches and special events. Our catchphrase is … It’s Fork ‘n Fun.
… and Yumcious?
Yumcious is a bistro/cafe styled restaurant – open from 8am-4.30pm Monday to Saturday – that has both an a-la-carte menu and a buffet which we call the KiloTable™. Our menu features delicious burgers and wraps and salads while the KiloTable – whereby you choose what you want and your plate is weighed and charged accordingly – has a wide selection of freshly made delicious and unusual salads, and cold meats and hot dishes like butter chicken, duck in an Asian cherry sauce, Moroccan tagines, roast pork and crackling, tarts and quiches and pasta bakes. We’re also open for breakfast and have a special running whereby you get two eggs, bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, toast and coffee – for only R35!
What will you be cooking for the guests at the Darling Trust dinner?
Together with Karibu’s acclaimed chef Jamie Rowntree I’ve designed a 5-course menu that includes a prawn starter, a second course of fresh smoked snoek with red wine barrel shavings and rooibos tea leaves set in a savoury pastry shell; a main course of Karoo lamb cutlets and, my favourite, a dessert we’ve called Zuma’s Mess and which consists of state captured malva pudding set on crème Anglaise and topped with a corruption of yoghurt, whipped cream, impeached guavas and mini meringues, drizzled with the most dishonestly amazing melted Darling Sweet toffee sauce. Assorted cheeses from Fairview rounds out the menu.
What is your favourite meal to cook at home?
I love cooking butter chicken it puts a long-lasting smile on my family’s face (see recipe below).
Name your favourite kitchen appliance?
My pestle and mortar
What is your motto in the kitchen?
Keep it simple and delicious, fresh and local, oh and abundant, leftovers taste better.
Who is your chef hero?
Rick Stein! He has been my food hero for as long as I can remember, I love his passion for food and his excitement over wonderful ingredients. I got to work with him at the Good Food & Wine Show in Durban a few years ago and it was a wonderful experience. He did not disappoint!
Complete this sentence: Food is…
Everything to me, it’s how I nurture, love and heal those around me.
Tickets for the Darling Trust Dinner and Auction which takes place on Friday, May 4 at Evita Se Perron in Darling are now sold out.
Jenny’s Butter Chicken Recipe (Serves 4)
- 3 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
- 6 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces and seasoned
- 1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon garlic, crushed
- ¾ teaspoon garam masala
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- pinch of sugar
- salt and pepper
- 4 cardamom pods, toasted and seeds ground
- 400 g large juicy tomatoes, peeled and grated
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1 cup fresh cream
- 100 g cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 4 tablespoons cashew nuts, lightly toasted and chopped
- Fresh coriander
Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil in a saucepan, and gently sauté the chicken pieces in batches till half cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside till late.
Add the remaining ghee to the saucepan and heat, now add the mustard seeds and fry for a few minutes so that they pop. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes till fragrant. Stir in the garam masala, cumin, coriander and chilli powder – do not let the spices burn! Add a little more ghee and cook for a few minutes.
Now add the sugar, salt, pepper, cardamom, tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken stock. Bring to the boil and cook till the sauce has become fragrant.
Pour the sauce into a food processor and blend till smooth. Return to the saucepan and add the cream. Bring the sauce to a simmer, adjust the seasoning, and return the chicken to the pot. Warm through.
Just before you are ready to serve, stir in the chopped butter a few pieces at a time. Spoon the butter chicken into a bowl, and garnish with chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts.
Serve with steaming hot basmati rice.