Cradock’s fabulous foodie: Sue Walton

FINGER FOOD: Sue Walton with her butternut quiches. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

By Louise Liebenberg

SHE started out  as a pre-primary teacher but an entirely new career path opened up to her following a life-changing stint with a  catering company in London in the mid-1990s.

Soon  Sue Walton was working on scores of exclusive functions like the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, where up to 750 guests would sit down to a seven-course meal attended by  Royalty and other highbrows, or the Queen’s annual high tea event at Buckingham Palace.

Sue – who is our guest on The Global Table this weekend and for the past 18 months has been based  at Cradock’s historic Victoria Manor Hotel and Die Tuishuise – later also worked for a famous South African restaurant called Springbok Café. Here she catered for the likes of  former president Nelson Mandela whenever he stayed over at his London residence – and was even involved  in organising his 80th birthday bash at South Africa House. Many other enviable functions  followed, but home eventually beckoned and in 2003 Sue, who is originally from Addo,  returned to South Africa.

She settled in Joburg for the next four years as an  events manager with By Word of Mouth, one of the country’s top catering firms whose exclusive events have featured on lifestyle programmes like SABC3’s Top Billing.

“In 2007 I returned to the Eastern Cape  and started my own catering company, Eventful, focussing mainly on corporate functions,” said Sue. Since  August 2009 she has been the food and beverage manager at the Victoria Manor and Die Tuishuise, owned by Cradock’s iconic Antrobus family.

“My focus on food is now changing and I’m looking at developing a diabetic food range in my spare time,” Sue said.

Scroll down below and you’ll find Sue’s recipes for her seriously  more-ish butternut tartlets and her fabulous, fuss-free brownies.

TEA-TIME TREAT: Sue's chocolate brownies (right) and her extra-chewy crunchies. The brownie recipe follows below. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Recipe: Sue’s Fuss-Free Brownies

This recipe is a great budget beater as it doesn’t actually contain chocolate – only cocoa – and yet the brownies are so chewy and delicious that you’d never know! Sue also uses margarine, not butter, which cuts down on the cost, but of course you can use butter if you prefer.

2 x recipe = 24 pieces

Ingredients

250g butter; 2 cups sugar; 3 large eggs (or 4 small); 1 tsp vanilla essence; 3 heaped tbsp cocoa powder; 2¼ cups cake flour

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Melt the butter in a pot. Place the sugar in a mixing bowl. Once the butter has melted, pour it over the sugar and beat for a few minutes until cooler and slightly dissolved.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add to the sugar/butter mixture and beat together for a minute. Add the cocoa and vanilla essence, beat until mix in.

Lastly add the flour and fold into the mixture.

The key to these brownies, Sue says, is to bake them in the right size pan, which must be 28cm x 23cm (size of a Weber roasting pan or small roasting pan). Be extra careful of doubling up this recipe and baking it off in a bigger pan, as they just don’t cook off as nicely.

Bake in your pre-heated oven for no longer than 35 min MAX. Depending on the oven, they may only take 25 minutes in some.

When you take them out of the oven, the centre pieces in the pan may seem a bit undercooked. Don’t worry about this as the mixture settles – and this allows you to serve the brownies with a softer centre, which is much nicer.

Cut with a sharp knife once cooled off a bit to avoid the top ‘crust’ of the brownies from flaking.

BRUNCH MUNCH: Sue's brunch spreads are beautiful to behold. The recipe below is for the butternut tartlets to the immediate right of the stand. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Recipe: Sue’s Butternut Tartlets

Ingredients and Method

1 roll ready-made puff pastry (take a large wine glass and cut out pastry circles; these rounds will go into a greased muffin tin); basil pesto; blue cheese; roasted butternut cubes; sautéed onion (red onions are sweeter, if you have); pine nuts.

For the custard filling, beat together with a fork: 2 eggs; 1 cup cream and ½ cup milk.

Place the cut out rounds into the muffin tin; rub basil pesto straight on to the bottom of each pastry case.

Place a little of each of your fillings (crumbed blue cheese, onion, butternut) inside; take a spoon and scoop custard filling into each tartlet till full. Drop 3 to 4 pinenuts on top.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees C for 25 – 35 min, depending on the oven.

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