IN OUR recent high tea competition we asked readers to send us their top tea-time recipes, whether for a savoury or a sweet treat.
And you certainly answered the call as we were overwhelmed by entries, which made it rather difficult to choose an overall winner! There were trusted chocolate cake recipes handed down from pastors' wives; recipes for the prettiest fruit tartlets and even a recipe for an elaborate cream cheese "triangle" stuffed with boozy fruit that I am just itching to try out one of these days!
Bev Zonneveld at No 5 Boutique Art Hotel, who arranged our prize of a one-night stay at this five-star establishment, helped me assess all the entries.
We both felt Annelize Kleyngeld of Rowallan Park in Port Elizabeth was an outright winner with her recipe for Turkish delight phyllo parcels.
We are sharing Annelize's recipe today, as well as a few of the other easy and appealing recipes sent in by readers.
No 5's head chef Phakamisa Kolisi recreated Annelize's phyllo delights in their kitchen afterwards and our winner was forced to confess his turned out much better than hers!
"I've only ever made these once and they were a bit of a flop, but they were so delicious that I have been wanting to try them out again," she said after being notified of her win and getting roped in to pose with Phakamisa's impressive attempt.
Here is Annelize's winning recipe, which I should think is equally suitable as a dessert.
TURKISH DELIGHT PHYLLO PARCELS
Ingredients 1/4 cup (60ml) honey
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) water
1/4 cup (60ml) rosewater
1 cup (100g) walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup (140g) pistachios, finely chopped
300g Turkish delight, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100g butter, melted
12 sheets phyllo pastry, halved lengthways
Method 1. Combine the honey, sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves.
Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until syrup thickens slightly. Remove from heat and add the rosewater. Set aside.
2. Combine the walnuts, pistachios, Turkish delight, cinnamon and half the rosewater syrup in a medium bowl.
3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Place phyllo on a clean work surface. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out.
Brush a sheet of phyllo with a little melted butter.
Place 1 tablespoonful of nut mixture at the end of the phyllo strip. Fold in the sides and roll to enclose the filling. Place on an oven tray. Continue with remaining phyllo, butter and nut filling.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven.
While still hot, pour over the remaining syrup. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Arrange on a platter to serve.
We also received a whole bunch of scone recipes, including from reader Claudia Austin, who sent in her childhood domestic worker Mavis's recipe for triple decker scones.
Claudia serves her scones with whipped cream, raspberries and blueberries for a "South African summertime finish". "My nanny, who looked after us since we were two years old, always used to make us these amazing scones. It was her special recipe that she left in our hearts and that we can now make for our kids and pass down."
Another reader, Rene Grundlingh, sent a recipe for orange scones with cinnamon vanilla whipped cream which sounded just the thing for a cold and rainy winter's day.
However, the scone recipe I tested out this week came from Janine Radford and the reason I chose it was because it sounded – and proved to be – so incredibly easy to make. I also liked that they did not turn out as dry as a lot of scones tend to do.
"I have decided to send you my divine 'cheat' scone recipe," wrote Janine, who recently moved to Port Elizabeth from Cape Town, where she used to love having tea at the famous Mount Nelson Hotel.
"You can literally make these in two minutes – the only thing that takes time is waiting for the oven to get hot!"
DIVINE 'CHEAT' SCONES
500ml self-raising flour
125ml can of lemonade
pinch of salt
Method1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
2. Sift the flour and salt, then add the cream and lemonade. Cut with a knife until mixed.
3. Turn onto a floured surface, flatten out slightly and then cut out the scones.
4. Place the scones on a baking sheet, brush wish a bit of milk and place in the oven for !0 minutes or until golden. This recipe makes 12 scones.
Our winner's partner, Du Toit Kleyngeld, also sent in his own entry for our high tea competition – and I have decided to include it today as it was the only savoury entry received.
"These stuffed cherry tomatoes are fresh, light, and tasty and I always love savoury treats at a tea," he wrote.
I tried these at home and thought they would be equally fitting as canapes or a tapas-style dish.
They are a little fiddly to make but the end result is well worth it.
One little tip though: a cherry tomato has a flat side and a round side ... make sure the flat side goes on the bottom or these little babies will be rolling around all over your serving platter!
CHERRY TOMATOES WITH BACON, CREAM CHEESE AND BASIL
Ingredients Cherry tomatoes, cut in half horizontally (it looks nice to use yellow and red tomatoes)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cream cheese (I used one the flavoured with onion chives)
Finely chopped streaky bacon, fried till crispy
Fresh basil leaves (small ones are better)
Method1. Using a teaspoon, carefully scoop out the seeds from both halves of each tomato. Discard the seeds.
2. Lightly sprinkle the inside of each tomato half with salt and pepper. Using a teaspoon spread a small amount of cream cheese into each.
3. Top with a bit of bacon and a basil leaf.
4. Top with the remaining tomato half (I found the finished product balances better if the half where the calyx was attached is at the bottom, not the top!)
5. Skewer with a toothpick and serve.