jessica shepherd

The Table

you will no doubt remember my old friend Jessica from various posts on the blog, as well as her and husband Luke’s wonderful restaurant Nook in Stellenbosch. after some busy & hectic years they sold Nook and moved to the country for a while, but it wasn’t long before ideas began brewing for their next venture – and that came in the form of The Table at De Meye. already an established eatery, the previous owners Russell and Camilla were sad to sell this little piece of heaven in the winelands – but Jess & Luke planned to continue the tradition of family-style dining inspired by local & seasonal ingredients.

…and this past saturday was their first official lunch! we ate charcuterie, fresh bread and sunchoke soup to start, and then the table was laden with plates of braised beef shortrib, mashed potatoes with lashings of farm butter, sauteed oyster mushrooms and sugar snap peas, pickled baby beets, and a delicious baby onion tarte tatin served with micro-greens. dessert was quince served two ways – poached with celery & ginger ice-cream (!) and a picture perfect quince souffle.

if you’ve ever been to the The Table before you know that usually guests sit at rustic tables under the trees outside, but this weekend winter really arrived in the Cape, so we sat inside the main building – which used to be an old dairy shed – next to the cosy fire. you’ll see lots of pics of the lovely interior below, as well as some images of the farm itself (and the farm dogs!). De Meye is a family-owned boutique winery just outside Stellenbosch, so you can do wine tastings right next door to the restaurant to pick the wine you’re going to have with your meal (so smart).

eating at The Table really is an awesome outing, and a perfect excuse to get out of town for the day. they’re open Saturdays and Sundays for long, lazy lunches. you can contact Jessica & Luke via their website to book a table.

all photos taken by me.

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Comments { 19 }

Mac & Cheese

when i asked Jessica if she’d like to contribute a food related guest post I didn’t give her any direction because I knew that anything she made would be amazingly tasty. i had a good laugh when she sent me this. i was having a discussion with my brother just the other day about what our last meals on earth would be if we could choose, and of course i said mac and cheese. my mom’s mac and cheese, more specifically, but Jessica’s version looks it might be the winner (probably due to this line: “Aim to use as much cheese as possible!  More than you think is appropriate.”)


Diana and I have known each other since we were 7 years old.  That’s almost 22 years I have been witness to her love affair with cheese.  On occasion she has described herself as having “a penchant for nice cheese”.  More like fervent enthusiasm.  I have a letter from our schoolgirl days in which Diana compares our friendship to no less than 25 different cheeses:

“… the legend of the Cheesemasters will live on … like mozzarella melting over a tomato covered pizza base … like Cheddar, Pecorino, Emmenthal and Parmesan; like Havarti, Sweetmilk, Motali and Brie … ” dot dot dot etcetera dot dot.

Her #1 cheese based dish of course, is Macaroni and Cheese.  It has to be the ultimate comfort food.  And boy is this recipe not the most delicious macaroni cheese I have ever tasted.  Aim to use as much cheese as possible!  More than you think is appropriate.

I adapted this recipe from Hawksmoor at Home.  They make use of distinctively English cheeses, namely Stilton, Ogleshield and Montgomery Cheddar.  I chose Taleggio for its excellent melting ability, and an aged Gruyere for its fruity flavour.

  • 500g macaroni
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 600ml milk
  • 60g butter
  • 60g flour
  • 250g Strong Cheddar, grated
  • 200g Gruyere, grated
  • 150g Taleggio, crumbled
  • Maldon sea salt
  • white pepper
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  1. You can make four individual macaroni servings, or bake in a medium-sized oven proof dish.  Brush the dish with half the olive oil and rub with the cut clove of garlic.
  2. Cook the macaroni in salted water until al dente.  Drain and refresh under cold running water, then mix with the remaining oil.
  3. In a saucepan bring the milk up to boiling point, then reduce the heat and keep warm.
  4. In another saucepan melt the butter over a medium heat, whisk in the flour and keep whisking until you have a pale golden ‘roux’ or grainy looking paste.  Return this saucepan to a medium heat and ladle the hot milk into the roux, a cup at a time, whisking all the time and completely incorporating each cup of milk before adding the next one.  After all the milk has been added, continue to whisk until the sauce thickens and bubbles gently (about 2 minutes).
  5. Take the pan off the heat, add the taleggio, gruyere and 125g of the cheddar, and stir until completely incorporated.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
  6. Pour three quarters of the sauce over the pasta and mix well.  Tip the mixture into the baking dish.  Top with the remaining sauce and half the remaining cheddar.
  7. Preheat the oven to 200°C and bake for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle over the rest of the cheddar and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until brown.

 

Comments { 18 }

Jessica & Luke’s Wedding

so i told you last week that my pals Jessica & Luke were getting married over the weekend. i was a bridesmaid along with Jessica’s twin sister Debra, and also one of the many unofficial official photographers. i’m really happy with how these photos came out – and even happier that i could capture some special moments from the day.

i have been witnessing the planning of this wedding from the day that Jessica and Luke got engaged. it was always going to be an intimate affair, with minimum fuss and a focus on everyone just enjoying themselves. they got married in the church Jessica and her family have attended since she was a kid, and had their reception down the road at their restaurant Nook. there were burgers and beer (my favourite), fries and mayonnaise to dip them in (my second favourite) and even devilled eggs (probably my all-time favourite).

i don’t have any photos from the actual ceremony, and my picture taking habits got increasingly worse the more we ate, drank and chatted – which is exactly what this wedding was all about. good times & celebrating with our favourite people.

the flowers were done by Hermien of Flowers in the Foyer – the funnest wedding flowers i have ever seen.

Comments { 42 }

jessica: things i like right now

a bit of history: jessica and her twin sister debra and i have been friends since we were in grade 2 (around 7 years old). jessica and luke own & run nook eatery, the restaurant in stellenbosch i am constantly prattling on about. go eat there!

things i like right now by jessica of nook eatery

  1. Growing my own vegetable/herb garden (this is part of Jessica’s garden, by the way)
  2. Double denim – I want to be her!
  3. Gucci Eau de Parfum II – thanks Diana for introducing me to this fragrance 7 years ago.
  4. Rompers – My mom made one for me when I was 8 years old, and I lived in it every chance I had. It was yellow with blue straps that tied on the shoulders. I am searching for one for summer, and this denim one worn by Alessandra Ambrosio in NYC is near perfect!
  5. Spring flowers – it is this time of year that I buy more flowers than I know what to do with. Ranunculi (otherwise known as Persian Buttercups) are my favourite.
  6. Jean Gillon Leather Rosewood Sofa circa 1960s – I saw this couch at Pier Rabe Bosman’s Crossing showroom, and it was love at first touch and sight. At R22,000.00 it’s a fantasy rather than reality, but I can dream.
  7. Lemon Meringue Pie – I made some for Nook this week and was lucky enough to share a piece with Luke on Tuesday afternoon after work in the Botanical Gardens.
  8. Boston Terriers by Rubenacker – discovered through a random search on etsy. This print and others in his collection made me smile inside and out.
  9. Style contrast – Fascinated with this pic from The Sartorialist
  10. Quilts – perfect for picnics, and I am determined to make one this year!
  11. A bar cart – I don’t know if I would strictly use this for alcohol, but something about owning one is just so appealing.
  12. Retro food – I love the series Mad Men, especially when they mention classic dishes such as Iceberg Wedge salad with Blue Cheese, Oysters, Crab and Avocado, and Fillet Mignon. I find myself cursing the TV when they fail to actually show the food as it arrives in front of them! In Episode 1 of Season 4, Don Draper is going on a date to a restaurant and Roger Sterling says, “Have the chicken Kiev. Butter squirts everywhere.” Oh … wow …

hahaha, really laughed at the retro food. i’m also totally fascinated & grossed out by it!

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homemade nutella

wow, so jessica and i finally had the chance to try another little recipe for our food series. this time something sweet – homemade nutella. the pics alone will show you how ridiculously easy this is to make, at a fraction of the price of real nutella … and it’s actually tastier (in my opinion)

you’ll need a bar of your preferred chocolate – obviously the better the chocolate the nicer your nutella is going to be. the slab of beacon served us well, but i can imagine that using lindt would be delectable…

150 grams hazelnuts:

1/2 cup of icing sugar:

1/4 cup of cocoa powder:

a couple of teaspoons of vegetable oil:

that’s all you need! now, roast the hazelnuts in a hot oven. jessica used her pizza oven, but just use a conventional oven, i’d say 180°c / 350°f – and keep an eye on it. when they start browning, take them out.

mmm perfectly roasted hazelnuts…

in the meantime, melt your chocolate using a double boiler or simply a bowl on top of a pot of boiling water – on low heat. the chocolate has to melt slowly to prevent becoming lumpy or grainy.

mmm perfectly melting chocolate…

while the chocolate is melting pop your hazelnuts into a food processor (note: a food processor, not a blender)

grind away until the nuts become a bit buttery but still chunky:

add all the dry ingredients and the completely melted chocolate:

if your food processor is broken, just jimmy it with a knife….

please also notice the incredibly ironic red dot design award sticker on this faulty piece of machinery

so, you’ll want to blend away until the mix is as smooth as possible – this will probably take around 15 minutes. add in a teaspoon or two of the vegetable oil while it’s going…. you won’t get it as smooth as real nutella unless you have an industrial blender.

when you’re satisfied with the smoothness let the mixture set for about an hour (put it in the fridge if you like)

… and serve with a freshly baked croissant or just eat it on it’s own …

mmmm NUTELLA!

Comments { 16 }

buttermilk fried chicken

for the first installment of our food series, jess wanted to try a buttermilk fried chicken recipe that didn’t smack of KFC. this isn’t the usual fare at nook, which is probably one of the reasons it was so appealing to make, plus it was a perfect sunny saturday and we had cold beers in the fridge. what goes best with cold beers? fried chicken. you’ll need:

the brine is in order to prep the chicken. bring all the ingredients to the boil and then let it cool down. soak the chicken overnight (12 hours) and then rinse the pieces under water, otherwise the meat will be too salty. basically the brine just makes the chicken super tender (and boy does it turn out tender…)

now prep your coating – mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, spice, paprika) and divide into two bowls.

pour the buttermilk into another bowl.

from here it’s super simple, dip the chicken into flour bowl 1, then buttermilk, then flour bowl 2…

place the battered pieces on a tray lined with baking paper, thusly:

heat your oil so long, to 160 C / 320 F

when the oil is ready place your first piece of chicken in (sizzle sizzle)

turn the pieces every now and then

you can put a few pieces in at a time, enough to sit comfortably in the pot. frying time is 10-12 minutes…

mmm perfectly crispy fried chicken

let them chill on a cooling tray for a few minutes

garnish with your favourite herbs – jess quick fried some fresh marjoram

nom nom nom!

serve with locally brewed beer, crisp white wine & a simple green salad

perfect…

bon appetito…

ps: this was much  much better than KFC, obviously.

Comments { 7 }

cinnabons

just a wee pictorial teaser before i kick off the new food series jessica and i are doing (she cooks, i take photos and we eat). this isn’t a real how to because i wasn’t really paying attention while she was making her famous cinnabons – i was just picking at the pastry and warming myself in front of the oven, really.

she defrosted some dough from the freezer  - jessica uses croissant dough (her own recipe, which i can’t divulge!)

roll it out, with vigour:

spread some muscovado sugar:

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look at nook

oh YAY Jessica & Luke’s restaurant Nook has been featured in the December issue of House & Leisure!

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so excited & proud of them, if you guys haven’t visited yet – please do

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