Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

Filtering by Tag: Wayfarer Trout

Good Taste - What is life without it?

Good Taste Magazine

"Cooking with Heart"

Good Taste Magazine
June 2013

The dense scenery of Mooi River zips past the windows of our rented  car. The terrain is hilly and tropical, saturated with green, and  spiked with gold grain. We've been travelling through the Midlands for a  few days now, winding our way from farm to pub to restaurant; soaking  up the strangeness of this mysterious place.

The valley unfolds, rural and quiet. The first thing to greet us as we  arrive at Hartford House is a horse, its tail lazily flicking in the  air. Not much can prepare us for the entrance to the estate though; as  we drive through the wrought iron gates, I feel like Orphan Annie  arriving at the Warbucks Mansion; it's so positively sweeping and grand.

In the centre of this sprawling thoroughbred stud farm, is the  multi-award winning five-star boutique hotel and restaurant, Hartford  House (as its name suggests it evolved out of the property's stately  home). We pause at the top of the steps to the patio, and take in the  manicured gardens, the towering willow trees, the sea of green lawn, the  burbling fountain. (I'm told later by the general manager that the  cupid statue overlooking the pond is actually one of Leonardo Da Vinci's  designs, and that only three like it were made from the mould before it  was destroyed.)

Jackie Cameron bounces through the doors of the main entrance. The  pretty chef was born and bred in the Midlands, petite and blonde; Jackie  has that certain something that makes you immediately like her. She  radiates positivity.

"I cook from the heart," she says when I ask her to describe her style.  "I put plates together that I enjoy; and all my new dishes reflect mine  and my staff's childhood memories."

A champion of Midlands produce Jackie says that 95 percent of her ingredients are local.

Our table is on the edge of the covered stoep overlooking the  garden; diaphanous curtains hang down from a railing, billowing and  romantic, and oh-so colonial. I could be happy in this setting with a  pot of Earl Grey and a plate of cucumber sandwiches, but one glance at  the menu confirms I'm about to taste KwaZulu-Natal on a plate.

Lunch gets off to a swinging start with an onion and roasted garlic soup  paired with a sticky wine, a brave choice for an introductory meal. We  follow this with a 'Midland's Caprese Salad'. Halves of sweet, seared  cherry tomatoes are served on a square of mirror with a local yoghurt in  place of mozzarella, finished with rooibos vinegar, basil pesto, pecan  nuts and avocado purée.

We also share a trout terrine with 'Wayfarer' Trout Mousse. The Wayfarer  Trout farm, says Jackie is a 'picture-perfect haven'; and the  Brookland's pristine waters running through the property create an ideal  environment for the fish.

"I enjoy cooking for guests who know about food and wine, so I assume  that as a supplier it must be gratifying to supply a chef who  appreciates every little bit of effort spent on developing perfect  produce."

The picture-perfect terrine is presented with marinated North Coast palm  heart, caviar, and tomato essence espuma, topped with 'Kathy's  Sous-vide Quail Egg'.

Before our main courses arrive, I venture into the main house. It's  beautiful inside, colonial, yet contemporary, more African than Brit.  There are of course, the grand chandeliers and the gleaming antiques;  but also curiosities, like the line of wooden dogs. The kitchen flanks  the inside dining room - a relatively small, but appropriately sumptuous  space - and I've never seen one quite like Jackie's, each corner has a  window with light and greenery streaming in, it's airy and bright: a  boon I'm sure in the sweltering summers.

I'm shooed back to the table for the rest of my lunch. Simply plated  pan-seared crispy Dargle Valley Duck breast is served, paired with  potato spaghetti, butternut purée, hot roasted hazelnuts and a cinnamon  infused red wine sauce.

My date has an artful dish of 'two-hour poached Midland's  rabbit hot terrine'; which comes with Parma ham rosettes and potato  cylinders.

We linger over our plates, entranced with the scenery as well as the stories being told through the unique Midlands produce.

The afternoon light is turning a gold-pink by the time we're ready for  dessert. It comes served on a slab of red brick, an unusual creation  called 'Cream Cheese Fruit Cake Mince Balls' with crispy 'Kamberg' ham,  cherries, Gorgonzola and Parmesan ice cream and liquorice.

"I'm bringing together sweet and savoury, hot and cold, cheese and  dessert - all into one. Really just keeping the palate excited and  interested until the last mouthful. Desserts don't have to be same-old,"  explains Jackie.

The creative cook knew from 'a tiny tot' that she wanted to be a chef.  "I use to spend most holidays baking next to one grandmother's side; and  roasting and cooking up multi-course meals with my other grandmother.  From a young age I had an understanding and appreciation of good food."

Before we take to the gardens to walk off lunch, or perhaps to dream  under a tree, Jackie has some parting words of advice: "Get to know the  area in which you live. Visit the farms, shop at the farmers' market and  local farm stalls. Taste, ask questions, and get to the root of  ingredients. Meet the baker, the cheese-maker and the farmer behind the  various products you use, and ask to see the methods adopted. This  ensures an understanding of the process and a different eating  experience."

Visit www.hartford.co.za for more information.

Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home

The bubbly chef has just released her  first cookbook: Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home, we chat to her briefly  about it:

What’s your cookbook about?

I find a lot of recipe books are trying to prove to the world that the  authors are creative and well informed regarding food, so they present  items that impress on paper, for example 'a stewed fruit with rose  syrup' this, and a 'lavender essence' that... In my book you'll find a  delicious stewed-fruit recipe just how my grandmother made it. No bells  and whistles, just interesting and tantalising flavours. I'm not trying  to prove to the world that I can cook; I'm aiming to help the home cook  improve her/his day-to-day cooking with a how-to recipe book filled with  recipes that work. I believe if people are cooking better at home they  will expect a higher level of food in restaurants and in turn the entire  food industry will step up a level.

What went into creating it?

I set a goal to write and have a book published by the time I turned 30.  I wrote a column for The Witness years ago and those articles gave me a  base to work from. As well as from the comments sent to me, I was able  to judge which recipes were popular, and which didn't impress the  readers. Everything I do is thoroughly researched before I throw myself  into a project.

Your favourite dishes?

That's like  asking a parent which child is their favourite! I have a connection with  every recipe in the book and there's a little story to go with each  one. They are all special in their own way.

"Going to Dargle Ducks is an education and it puts most farms to shame,"  says Jackie. "They've gone back to what really matters. They call their  ducks 'open range' because they are free to roam day and night. The  feed is grown specifically for the ducks and includes sunflowers,  mealies, cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli, spinach, wheat, rye grass,  beans and kikuyu."

www.goodtaste.co.za

Not all 'Seafood' is Equal

"The KZN Midlands is renowned for trout fishing..."

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Local is lekker - and remember eating fish with a clear conscience is responsible behaviour and makes for a relaxed, indigestion-free meal! Always think green listed. It's the recommended fish from the Sassi (Southern Africa's Sustainable Seafood Initiative) list and is fish sourced from the healthiest and most well-managed populations. Find out more on www.wwf.org.za/sassi. I challenge you to make a difference.

The KZN Midlands is renowned for trout fishing but there are noticeably few interesting, home-cooked combinations on dining room tables. Today we'll look at some simple ideas and tantalising combinations that are quick and easy to whip up at home. Try them - you will be pleasantly surprised.

Let us start off with the most common way of cooking a whole trout. Braaing or oven roasting trout - the cavity filled with fresh herbs and flavouring - makes a relaxed meal for a lazy day at the pool or the dam.

Ideas don't have to be off the wall to be impressive. The slightest ingredient changes can make all the difference. Think creamy-trout cottage pie for a variation of the traditional minced-meat cottage pie. This promises to be an interesting alternative to your normal weekly meals.  Serve with a freshly-picked leafy, green salad drizzled with butter-lemon dressing; crunchy, sage leaves and a warm, crisp seed selection. This is healthy - and delicious.

Trout spring rolls are a tasty variation to a theme. I'm a spring-roll fanatic yet so often I feel short changed because the centres are almost empty of ingredients. When making trout spring rolls ensure you are generous with the filling. I always serve them with home-made sweet chilli sauce.

Trout rice salad is a refreshing and scrumptious light-lunch option. The slight spiciness with a touch of sweetness from the raisins complements the trout so well. Remember to include a side serving of lemon wedges.

I struggle to find a good home-made fish cake. The key word is 'home-made'; I will never ever eat those terrible processed fish cakes - so I have to make my own. Serve as a starter with thick garlic mayonnaise or, more traditionally, with silky-smooth potato crème and mushy peas.

When I started at Hartford House trout quiche - with rich, flaky fennel-butter pastry - featured as a side dish to a fish main course. How food has changed over the years! Although culinary trends may have evolved nothing beats a quiche made with love and care. This dish screams savoury richness.

Stir fries take me back to my junior school days. I had a friend, Bryan, and his parents organised a make-your-own-stir-fry birthday party! I was in my element! It was a very novel idea considering there were no cooking shows or Master Chef competitions in those days. Bowls of vegetables, meat, fish, seeds, oil and soya surrounded us and we were all encouraged compile then cook our own stir fries. So clever because children, generally, have different preferences. We all had a blast! And now when I think stir fry, I step back in time to a very happy place. This trout stir-fry recipe, using combinations you can find in your pantry, is tasty, quick and easy.

I wish you happy cooking with one of our local and best fish - the trusty trout.

I am putting the final touches to 'Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home'. Keep a look out for this user-friendly recipe book. It will be on the shelves in April 2013.

Best trout in the Midlands - Wayfarer Trout
Contact Sue on 082 415 3780.
Susan Hofman - wayfarer.dargle@gmail.com

GO TO : youtube.com/watch?v=dqyBGtP6rDs FOR A YOUTUBE VIDEO OF ME COOKING TROUT!

Please take these recipes and try them!

rainbow trout

SUPPORT THE LOCAL SUPPLIER

It's clear why these trout look and taste so good / Cooked in Africa (p)

It's clear why these trout look and taste so good / Cooked in Africa (p)

"Getting out of the kitchen, pulling on my gumboots, and heading across KwaZulu-Natal's Midlands with pen and paper in hand is my kind of day out with the team."

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

We all know we should be supporting the small, local farmer - but how many of us actually take heed of the cry? Conscientious farmers who consider the environment and offer professional service are an inspiration. Their enthusiasm and desire to improve South African produce are motivating. Over the years I have been fortunate to meet many wonderful people in the hospitality industry including my suppliers whose personalities and moving stories thrill me.

I challenge you to get to know the area in which you live. With an enquiring mind visit the farms; listen to foodie conversations; shop at the farmers' market and local farm stalls. Taste, ask questions, and get to the root of ingredients. Meet the baker, cheesemaker and farmer behind the various products you use, and ask to see the methods adopted. This ensures an understanding of the process and a different eating experience. You will be able to retell interesting stories to guests, friends and family over the next meal. My regular outings to visit suppliers are exhilarating and educational. Getting out of the kitchen, pulling on my gumboots, and heading across KwaZulu-Natal's Midlands with pen and paper in hand is my kind of day out with the team.

Arriving at Chrissie's Farmhouse in Eston, just outside of Richmond, is overwhelming in every aspect. Her home is a cheese museum filled with items such as an 1820's Gouda press that is still in working order, over 50 cheese Victorian or Art Deco dishes and large Stilton bells. Chrissie has been manufacturing boutique cheeses on her farm with her herd of Ayrshire cows for over 25 years, and produces Cheddar-based cheese, Stilton in season and some soft varieties of Brie. Her determination is inspirational. Her produce is world class, winning silver in the London Cheese Awards. The heads of cheese, which she refers to as landmines, are electric on the palate and showcase her eccentric personality. Her enthusiasm is contagious and I appreciate her cheese more because I know Chrissie the person, her background and her cheese-making processes.

Sue's farm, Wayfarer Trout, is in the heart of the Midlands and, having the utmost respect for my car, I take a very slow drive along gravel roads to her farm. At the end of the drive, one is greeted by a lush, picture-perfect haven with a striking reed-and-lily-filled dam and the Brookland's pristine waters run through the property. It's clear why these trout look and taste so good. In this environment and with water temperatures that remain below 24°C, conditions are ideal. Wayfarer Trouts are perfecty filleted, pin-boned and tastefully presented and visiting this farm has raised my level of appreciation for the product. I enjoy cooking for guests who know about food and wine so it stands to reason that suppliers must be grateful to be supplying chefs who appreciate the effort spent on developing perfect produce.

Dean and Serene, mother and son, are the proud owners of Dargle Ducks in Dargle. Going to their farm is an education and puts most farms to shame. The simplicity, and their having accomplished going back to what really matters, is motivating. They call their ducks 'open range' because they are free to roam day and night. The feed, which includes sunflowers, mealies, cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli, spinach, wheat, rye grass, beans and kikuya is grown specifically for the ducks. The 'good life' is seen in every plump duck breast that is deboned in our kitchen. The proportions of fat to meat are exceptional; the size and tenderness notable.

Search for the best possible ingredients your money can buy, be it for home or restaurant cooking. I always say I'll never serve a guest something that I would not serve my parents - the two people I never want to disappoint.

It is a fact that the more interest we take in the products we use, the better quality ingredients we will have to work with. I suggest we focus on promoting the local suppliers in our rich and resourceful country. I would like to see more locally-driven menus highlighting small and large local suppliers. It's an exciting time for us as lovers of food. If we stand together we can carve the direction of food by educating the public.

Extract from CHEF! Issue 29

KWAZULU-NATAL MIDLANDS PRODUCE SUPPLIERS

Sunday lunch at Hartford House

Sunday lunch at Hartford House

"The rest of the country is becoming aware of the excellent produce available here in KwaZulu-Natal."

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Albeit slowly, the rest of the country is becoming aware of the excellent produce available here in KwaZulu-Natal.

Earlier this year I was in Cape Town as a judge for the EAT IN Awards. The panel included Anelde Greeff (EAT IN editor), Pete Goffe-Wood (Master Chef SA judge), Abigail Donnelly (EAT OUT editor), Anna Trapido, (editor of Food to Freedom, featuring Nelson Mandela), Deon van Wyk (head buyer for Melissa's) and myself. Two days of intense tasting lead us to experience the extremely interesting quality of ingredients in and around South Africa. I was pleased to note the local KwaZulu-Natal suppliers who had entered. Here's to next year and to putting even more KZN products on the map.

Back to 'local is lekker' and the suppliers I am currently using. Pork pies, sausages, sliced gammon and well-smoked, streaky bacon from Caz, of Dargle Valley Pork, are top class. They help make breakfast memorable. Pork mince balls with chunky barbeque/pineapple sauce is an unusual dish and worth a try.

From Dargle Valley Ducks I order Serene and Dean's whole birds and they also sell the thighs separately, which is good to know should you want to make confit. I recently tried their sausages and duck liver pate and was very favourably impressed. We make our own at Hartford House but I recommend this pate for home use. Serve with crispy, thin Melba toast and sweetened strawberry-and-rosemary relish.

Nothing can compare when it comes to goat's cheese from Fran's Swissland Cheese. If you live in KZN I suggest you visit her farm on the Midlands Meander. Her St Maure, slightly warmed on a bruschetta with home-marinated beetroot, is a delicious snack.

Chrissie'sfarmhouse cheddar is on my list of favourites. I always include a serving of this with Christmas cake. All her cheeses tickle the taste buds - and look out for her Stilton; it's full of character.

La Petite Francecamembert, made in the classical French tradition, oozes creaminess. Try it on a water biscuit with their rose syrup, which includes delicate pink petals, or with their fig preserve.

Croft Farm Chickens are free-range, happy hens. I use Candy and Chris' delicious, plump livers and their whole chickens and can also recommend their pies, rolls, spatchcocks and stuffed roasts too. What is a tasty roast chicken without a super crispy roast potato? Try the accompanying recipe. It promises to please.

Sue's trout from Wayfarer Trout can only be explained to the initiated - once bitten you won't go anywhere else. Hers are pin-boned and tastefully presented - seared with lemon is my choice, alternatively you could use the smoked trout in a spread.

I would like to see more rabbit dishes on our country-restaurant menus. It is often our best seller on a Sunday at Hartford House. Try Ziggy's New-Zealand rabbits and make a superb hot terrine or casserole.

Speak to Greg from Greg's Farm Stall for anything a little unusual with regards to vegetables. Think micro herbs, coloured carrots, Jerusalem artichokes and fresh horseradish.

I look forward to judging the EAT IN competition next year and to welcoming many more KZN entries - olives, pickles, preserves; in fact all things edible. Remember to send your whole range because that gives a better overview. Should you produce something special or know of someone making or producing something unique, please let me know. The better informed I am the better I can inform the rest of the country.

KZN MIDLANDS PRODUCE SUPPLIERS

Dargle Valley Pork - Caz - 0824570987
Dargle Ducks - Dean - 0824220806
Swissland Goat's Cheese - Fran - 0824183440
Chrissie's Farmhouse Cheddar - Chrissie - 0825586049
La Petite France Camembert - Geri - 0824916623
Croft Farm Chickens - Chris or Kandy - 0823398892 - www.croftfarmchicken.com
Wayfarer Trout - Sue - 0824153780
Ziggy's Rabbit - Ziggy - 0827353821
Greg's Farm Stall - Greg - 076674552

Take these recipes and try them.

zulu shield

PORK MINCE BALLS
STRAWBERRY AND ROSEMARY RELISH
MARINATED BEETROOT
CRISPY ROAST POTATOES
SMOKED TROUT SPREAD
RABBIT CASSEROLE

Send comments and food-related questions to jackie@hartford.co.za. I always look forward to hearing from you. For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK. Find me on Twitter - jackie_cameron.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
www.hartford.co.za
jackie@hartford.co.za
+27 33 263 2713

Assisted by Elaine Boshoff for recipe development and photography

SUNDAY TIMES FOOD AWARDS WITH CHEF JACKIE CAMERON

Hartford House Executive Chef Jackie Cameron / Sally Chance (p)

Hartford House Executive Chef Jackie Cameron / Sally Chance (p)

SUNDAY TIMES FOOD AWARDS
2010

The Sunday Times, in association with Foodcorp, is looking for South Africa's hottest talent in the kitchen. The partnership is committed to supporting South Africa's chefs and food innovators through the awards.

Now in its fourth year, the competition aims to recognise and reward the country's top chefs - and it offers the largest prize money in South African chef competition history.

There are four categories in the competition - Sunday Times Chef of the Year, Sunday Times Young Chef of the Year, Sunday Times Chef School Challenge and a new category, Sunday Times Stalwart of the Kitchen. In each category, entrants are required to submit a menu using uniquely South African ingredients from a predefined list.

Hartford House's own award-winning chef Jackie Cameron is one of the judges for the competition and was interviewed recently by Hilary Biller. Following is an extract from the article published in yesterday's Sunday Times :

Q&A

Q : You are listed by SA Tourism as one of South Africa's young and upcoming chefs to watch. How does this make you feel?

A : Recognition always inspires me to continue re-inventing myself. It also increases the pressure of not wanting to disappoint the many people who have and are working with me.

Q : Has it been difficult being a woman in a male-dominated arena?

A : Definitely not. This has in a way pushed me to prove my worth. My parents, especially my father, brought us girls up knowing that anything is possible and that we have to work just as hard as any man if we want to get anywhere in life. Hard work and determination are the keys. But, at the same time, we girls should never lose our femininity.

Q : Hartford House, where you are executive chef, is known as one of South Africa's gourmet destinations. What gives the hotel the edge?

A : It's the only one in the world situated on a world-class stud farm.

Q : You are heading off to dine at El Bulli restaurant in Spain. Is chef/owner Ferran Adrià one of your food heroes?

A : Of course Adrià is one of my food heroes. Who would not be inspired by his creativity and absolute devotion to the cooking industry? I heard the other day that 90% of anything new in the world that a chef claims he or she created was inspired by something that has already been done.

Q : The emphasis today is on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. List three of your favourite suppliers.

A : I love keeping it local : Swissland Cheese for their goat milk cheese, La Petite France for their superb camembert and Wayfarer Trout for their fresh trout.

Q : What are three things every cook should know?

A : When in doubt, strain.

A : Any ingredients that grow under the ground, such as potatoes, must be cooked in cold water to start and anything above the ground, such as cauliflower, must be cooked in boiling water.

A : Always cook with the best quality ingredients you can afford. Never compromise on quality.

Q : If your kitchen was on fire, what would you grab?

A : The hand-written recipe books I have had in my kitchen, at Hartford House, for nearly eight years now. Each page tells a new story with all the different writing styles. Nearly every person who has been through the kitchen has written something in these books.

Q : Like all famous chefs, you must break down occasionally. What is your favourite takeout?

A : Mine is Chinese food, but I realised recently, after a trip to Shanghai, that the Chinese flavours I enjoy so much in South Africa are not necessarily the flavours one finds in China. I love "South African Chinese food", such as sweet-and-sour pork with noodles and fried rice.

Q : What dish have you failed to make successfully?

A : Putu pap. I never seem to make it as well as the ladies in the kitchen.

Q : What dish has your name all over it?

A : Our soups at Hartford represent my main basic principle about food - to always keep things simple and always highlight the main ingredient. Never over-complicate and confuse flavours.

Q : As a judge in the Sunday Times Food Awards, what advice would you offer prospective entrants?

A : Cook what you know and cook it well.

Q : What is the value of entering chef competitions?

A : It is a brilliant way to showcase a chef's talents and allows one the opportunity to grow and develop.

Visit
www.sundaytimesfoodawards.co.za