When it comes to South African food culture, we stand truly united at the Braai.
As families in lockdown together, with closed parks and beaches, in summer it’s an even better excuse to get together around the braai. As if you needed any prompting!
Cookbook author, culinary creator and celebrity baker Grace Stevens says the privilege of braaiing all over South Africa, taught her that what makes South African braai culture so special is that every region has its own delicacy!
Some of Grace’s favourite prepare-ahead braai day treats:
Fig & Blue Cheese Skewers
Delicious, sweet and savoury skewers – a fantastic appetiser, and great alternative for vegetarians that puts dry vegetable patties to shame. Roasting fruit briefly before the cheese melts off completely over the open fire encourages sticky caramelisation that balances the salty tang of the blue cheese perfectly, with walnuts adding a nutty crunch. (Soak wooden skewers in water for an hour before adding fruit to prevent the skewers from scorching.)
Biltong is a South African classic. This stokbrood uses biltong powder and fresh thyme in the dough, adding delicious herby, meaty flavour. Grace says one of her favourite childhood braai experiences involved making stokbrood and she vividly remembers the feeling of ‘survivalist’ cooking, twirling the dough-wrapped sticks over the coals.
To this day her favourite braai moment is sliding the cooked bread off the stick and filling the space left with a delicious piece of boerewors for the best kind of homemade boerie roll. Try it, you’ll like it!
Cheese and onion braai bread
Based on the best cheese and onion braaibroodjies Grace ever had, this loaf incorporates fresh dough, chopped onions and a sprinkling of cheese, making it the perfect companion to a Braai.
The chopped onions are kneaded into the dough itself, adding delicious juices & a flavourful steam, resulting in a nicely fluffy loaf. (Get ready-made bread dough from your favourite supermarket’s baking section.)
Butter loaf well on the outside, on both sides, before it hits the grill.
Lemon Verbena Gin Lollies
Long summer days full of sunshine, fresh fruit, and braaivleis deserve the perfect cooling cocktail.
These Lemon Verbena Gin ice lollies are a refreshing way to add a little cheek to your weekend and are a revelation in natural botanical flavours.
Use one of South Africa’s splendid craft gins to add more flavour, from orange to ginger, buchu to rooibos.
450g strawberries, washed with tops cut off and quartered
250ml (1 cup) white castor sugar
5ml vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, slit open, seeds scraped out with a teaspoon and set aside on a small saucer for adding later. (Keep the pod, you can shove it into a sugar canister to make vanilla sugar.)
500ml cold pouring cream
1. Blend strawberries in a food processor to a smooth puree, stopping the machine now and then to scrape down any chunks and blend them in.
2. Bring milk to a gentle boil. If using a vanilla seeds, add to milk before simmering gently for 10 minutes, to infuse the milk with flavour and aroma.
3. Take milk off the heat, add sugar while milk is hot, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool completely, then add to strawberry puree in the blender.
4. With processor still on, slowly pour cold cream into the strawberry puree and blend well. Leaving the processor on at this point aerates the ice cream mixture, creating bigger volume and a creamier mouthfeel.
5. Place a small glass bowl inside a larger glass bowl filled with ice water to create an ice bath.
6. Pour ice cream mixture into the smaller glass bowl, & leave to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when all the ice has melted.
7. Once mixture has cooled, pour it into a metal container. Grace prefers using cake tins, but 1kg loaf tins lined with clingfilm also work well. You can add fresh fruit, caramel, chocolate sauce, nuts and any other sweet treats at this point. It’s important to use a metal container, as this will help your ice cream set quickly.
8. Cover metal tin with tinfoil and pop ice cream in the freezer overnight to set and harden.
9. Garnish with mint, fresh strawberries or any other condiments your heart desires.
Perfect for a hot summer’s day, with fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, crushed-up meringue or even with your favourite warm pudding.
The strawberries can easily be substituted with any gorgeous, ripe seasonal stonefruit or other berries.
From cheese and tomato braaibroodjies, kerriesosaties to pap, wors and chakalaka, South African braai cuisine truly celebrates our diverse cultures, coming together for a great time with fabulous food.
For more delicious tips and treats, follow Grace on Instagram @ grace_stevenschef or visit www.gracestevens.co.za
Instagram @ grace_stevenschef or visit www.gracestevens.co.za