Tania Ahlfeldt, of Chelsea on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, has just won Ideas magazine’s national Domestic Goddess search. Finalists from around the country were thoroughly put through their paces – including having to whip up a three-course meal for the judges. Tania is married to Alan and they have two boys, Ethan, 8, and Aaron, 4. Today she shares one of her favourite breakfast/ brunch recipes – French toast with a twist.
1 fat French loaf; 4 free-range eggs; 3 red onions; 2 cloves of garlic; 2 triangles of Brie; 5 tbs slivered almonds, roasted (see method below); Thyme; Olive oil; Brown Balsamic vinegar; Salt and pepper; Brown sugar.
Method for the caramelised onions
Coat a frying pan with olive oil. Slice the onions to a make thin strips and separate the layers as you throw them into the pan. Add 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar for every onion.
Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar and some thyme into the mixture and cook, stirring occasionally till the onions start to darken and get sticky. Crush the garlic and add to the mix; when cooked through remove from the heat.
Method for the roasted almonds
Roast the almond slivers in a dry pan until they start to brown slightly and you smell their awesome aroma. Watch them carefully and turn them regularly. This goes quickly so don’t let them burn!
Method for the toast
Cut the French loaf into thick ‘door-stopper’ slices (almost 3 fingers thick). Beat the eggs together and season with a little salt and black pepper. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan and ensure that it has a thin coating of oil.
Dip the bread into the egg mix and cut the brie into 1cm thick slices. Start frying the bread.
Turn the bread when golden and crispy and layer the brie slices on top so they melt slightly while the other side of the bread browns. When both sides are golden, transfer the toast onto a plate.
Add loads of warm caramelised onions and sprinkle with roasted almonds for added taste and crunch.
Tania’s tips for making French toast
Garnish each plate with interesting tastes that add to the dish. Try balsamic glaze – a must for your pantry.
A tasty pesto, a wedge of lemon or lime, sprigs of fresh herbs, peppery rocket … these compliment so many tastes – from pizza and steak to the humble (and not so humble) French toast.
Just smear, dot or dribble them onto a white plate, add food and let your guests do the dipping and taste sensationing!
10 Questions: Tania Ahlfeldt
1) How would you describe your style of cooking?
Fresh. Generous. In the moment. Food to keep our ‘gourmet’ tongues happy.
2) What is a fool-proof menu you’d serve when entertaining guests?
Asparagus and French bean salad to start with, seafood chowder with crispy bread for mains and macadamia brittle vanilla pudding to end things off with. Espressos, whiskey …
3) What is your most exciting recent food find?
Bright pink beetroot sprouts (thanks to Main Road Spar!)
4) What are your five most indispensable store-cupboard or fridge/freezer staples?
Red onions, garlic, fresh herbs, olive oil and good cheese.
5) Which kitchen gadget or utensil can’t you live without?
My espresso machine.
6) Is nostalgia a factor for you when you cook?
Absolutely! Cooking brings out the romantic and creative in me. I often long for my Omie when I cook – she was a Boerekombuis Goddess of note!
7) What is your favourite drink to serve guests?
Red, red wine…
8) Do you have a clever trick up your sleeve when it comes to getting your kids to eat healthily?
I load my shopping trolley with healthy food and put brown stone-ground flour into anything that requires flour, from hamburger patties to pancakes. (Ethan came home from a friend to say that his mom didn’t know how to make pancakes as there were no brown bits in it!) I like to thicken my stews with sweet potato and other root veggies and I try to buy organic and free-range whenever budget allows. I also find that reading labels educates me – I stay away from MSG, aspartame etc. But I do ensure that we all get normal kids treats too!
9) What is your secret guilty food pleasure?
I have no secrets and guilt is overrated. CHOCOLATE! Give me more!
10) What is your favourite restaurant and why do you like it?
I cannot live without Vovo Telo’s coffee. I’ve had coffee all over the world and in my book they rate at number 1! There’s nothing like an early morning (7.30ish) coffee with the locals and a warm, buttery chocolate croissant. The new Bocadillo’s in Walmer is serving pretty impressive coffees too. Both have ambiance, friendliness, music and sunlight filtering through.