Jane's Delicious Garden Blog

Time for Summer Salads

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the October 17th, 2019

I just love creating salad platters. The possibilities are endless. Tonight’s deliciousness was a bed of mixed greens, papaya, cherry tomatoes, sliced rib eye (from Boomplaats Organic Farm) toasted cumin, Gorgonzola from Linden’s Cheese Gourmet and edible flowers. served with herbed couscous.

Papaya and rib eye salad.

Pick a mix of greens (watercress, rocket, lettuce, nasturtium leaves) and spread out on a platter. On top spread the following evenly:

  • Chopped cucumber, papaya and cherry tomatoes.
  • Sliced rib eye (with a spice rib of: dried oregano and thyme, pul biber, salt, pepper, cumin, sugar and a touch of ground coffee.)
  • Toasted cumin seeds
  • Crumbled Gorgonzola
  • Rose petals, nasturtium and watercress flowers
  • Crispy sun dried onion sprinkles.

Dress with olive oil, balsamic glaze and lemon juice.

Herbed couscous

  • Pour boiling water over couscous (equal proportions). Leave to absorb.
  • Chop basil, mint and celery.
  • Mix herbs with olive oil, sea salt and pul biber. Muddle to blend and extract herb flavour.
  • Add to couscous, using a fork to fluff it up.

Yum yum yum!

Black Pearl Layer Cake

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the September 29th, 2019

I first made this cake for Keith’s birthday in 2005 or so, after seeing the recipe in Bon Appetit magazine. I was intrigued by the ingredients. Wasabi mustard? Ginger? Sesame? In a cake??? I had to try it – despite it looking like a hectically complicated recipe.

It was so utterly scrumptious that a friend of mine said to me “If you weren’t married – I’d propose!”

In 2011, another friend (who had also been at the tea party) asked me to make the cake for her wedding.No pressure!

Her wedding was out in the bush under a massive wild olive tree, but luckily – despite the bouncy dirt road – the cakes made it intact.

On Friday I made it for the third time. To celebrate my birthday yesterday after what has been a particularly difficult year.

It is a celebration cake. One of the most delicious I’ve ever eaten. And it is worth the effort. But be warned – it might lead to unexpected proposals!!

Here is the recipe, adapted from the Bon Appetit one:

Black Pearl Layer Cake

Black pearl ganache

• 170 g dark chocolate, chopped

• ¾ cup whipping cream

• 1 teaspoon ground ginger

• ½ teaspoon wasabi powder

• 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

• 1 tablespoon golden syrup

• 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

Place the chocolate in medium bowl. Bring the cream, ginger, and wasabi to boil in small pot. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate; cover with plastic wrap and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Whisk the cream and chocolate until smooth. Mix the sesame seeds and syrup in small bowl until all the seeds are well coated and stir into the chocolate mixture. Cool to lukewarm then stir in the butter. Cover and stand at room temperature overnight to set.

Ginger syrup

• 1 cup water

• ½ cup sugar

• 5 tablespoons matchstick-size strips peeled fresh ginger

• 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Place the water, sugar and ginger in a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan, and add the bean pod. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for 2 minutes then remove from the heat. Stand at room temperature for 1 hour for the flavours to blend.

Strain the syrup into a small bowl. Chop the strained ginger and keep it aside to be added to the cake mix. (The syrup can be prepared a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate the ginger and syrup separately.)


• 2 cups boiling water

• 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

• 2¾ cups flour

• 2 teaspoons baking soda

• ½ teaspoon baking powder

• ½ teaspoon salt

• 2¼ cups sugar

• 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 4 large eggs

• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter three 20 cm diameter cake pans with 5 cm high sides. Dust with flour and line the bottoms with baking paper.

Whisk the boiling water, cocoa powder and reserved chopped ginger in a medium heat-proof bowl. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Using an electric mixer beat the sugar and butter in another large bowl until fluffy, for about 1 minute. Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Then add the flour mixture in 4 additions alternating with cocoa mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon.

Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes, until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto racks to cool completely. (Cakes can be prepared a day ahead. Wrap with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.)

Whipped cream icing

• 2 cups chilled whipping cream

• ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons icing sugar

• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

• ½ teaspoon ground ginger

• black sesame seeds for decoration

Beat the cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, vanilla, and ginger and beat until stiff peaks form.

Using a long serrated knife, trim the rounded tops off the cakes to create a flat surface. Place one cake layer, cut side up, onto a plate. Brush the top with ⅓ cup ginger syrup. Spread half of the ganache over the top. Place a second layer, cut side up, on top of the first layer. Brush with ⅓ cup syrup, and spread with the remaining ganache. Top with the third cake layer and brush with the remaining syrup.

Spread the sides and top with whipped cream icing. Sprinkle the top with black sesame seeds. Refrigerate until the ganache is set, about 4 hours. Stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. (Can be made a day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Delicious served with blueberries and strawberries.

Fresh and Easy

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the September 20th, 2019

Abundant spring herbs add flavour to any meal. Here a blend herbs, nuts and spices create a delicious feast.

I served this chunky cashew nut pesto with herbed cous cous, tramezzini, hummus and a fresh salad. But also try it on top of roasted eggplant

Chunky Cashew nut and herb pesto.

• roast cashew nuts in cast iron pan til just browned. Remove from pan and sprinkle with pul biber.

• roast cumin seeds in same pan til fragrant and add to cashew nuts.

• blend basil and coriander leaves with olive oil.

• add cashew nut mix and blend briefly so they are chopped but still chunky.

• add salt, lemon juice and Black Gold balsamic to taste

Cous cous with herb sauce

• blend basil and parsley with olive oil.

• add Moroccan spice, lemon juice, pepper and salt to taste

• mix with fluffy cous cous.


• blend one garlic clove and about ½ a teaspoon of salt with a quarter of a cup of fresh lemon juice. Leave to sit for 20 minutes. (This tempers the garlic.)

• Add ½ a cup of tahini and a tablespoon of cold water. Blend. Add another tablespoon and blend til smooth. Add more water if the tahini was very thick.

• Add ½ teaspoon of cumin, 1 Tbs olive oil and a can of drained chickpeas. Blend til smooth.

• Add more water and/or olive oil if too thick and blend. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice to taste.

• serve drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of pul biber.

Basic pest repelling spray

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the September 9th, 2019

Healthy organic gardens always have a few resident pests to provide fodder for predatory, beneficial insects, which in turn reduce the need for additional pest control. However, when these troublesome pests begin to destroy the garden, you need to take action. To dissuade them, grow strong smelling plants such as citronella pelargonium, artemisia, tansy and feverfew among your flowers and veggies. Use their leaves as pest repelling mulch or to whip up an inexpensive home-made spray.

  • ½ bucket leaves and stems of citronella pelargonium elder, tansy, feverfew or African wormwood
  • just-boiled water
  • 2T dishwashing liquid

1. Add the water to the bucket of leaves and stems, stir and leave to stand overnight.

2. Strain, add dish-washing liquid and mix.

3. Spray onto affected plants every few days as this herbal insecticide breaks down quickly. Make sure you spray underneath the leaves as well as on top.

  • The spray will keep for up to a month.
  • Don’t discard the leaves and stems after they’ve been steeped in water, rather add them to your compost heap.
  • To increase the efficacy of the basic spray, include garlic, onion and chilli. Chop these ingredients up finely and add to the plants with the just-boiled water.
  • To repel wool-eating moths, dry the leaves of elder, tansy, citronella pelargonium, feverfew or African wormwood and place in single socks. Tie the top closed with a ribbon and tuck amongst your woollies.

Perfect Pizza base

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the August 25th, 2019
  • I love a thin crispy pizza crust and they are surprisingly easy and quick to make.
  • Here is my recipe.

    •  ¾ cups lukewarm water
    • 1tsp instant yeast
    • 1½ tsp salt
    • 2 cups Tipo 00 flour
    • olive oil, for greasing


    1. Combine the water and yeast in a bowl and stir. Add the salt and flour and mix until combined.
    2. Turn the shaggy dough (and any loose flour) onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
    3. Shape the dough into a ball and place inside an olive oil greased bowl, turning so the dough is covered with oil. Cover and leave to rise for about an hour and a half, until doubled in size.
    4. Preheat the oven to the highest temperature.
    5. Place a pizza stone or baking tray in the lower middle part of the oven.
    6. Halve the dough with a dough scraper. Take one piece and form it into a large disc using your hands to pull, turn and stretch it. Place it on a 30cm piece of baking paper. If you want it even thinner, use a rolling pin. (It will stick to the paper, but when it bakes, the dough will release from the paper.) If the dough starts shrinking back, leave it to rest for five minutes before trying again.
    7. Repeat with the second half of dough.
    8. Add your toppings and place the pizza (with the baking paper) in the oven. Bake for about five minutes then rotate the pizza, removing the paper as you do. Bake for a further 5 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
    9. Repeat with the second pizza

     Makes two 25cm pizzas

    One bowl Wonder.

    Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the July 15th, 2019

    I love roasting a whole chicken and then using the leftovers for various meals. Tonight I made a meal served in one bowl, but each of the components is cooked separately with different flavours. This creates a wonderful mix when served over rice, with the different flavours popping out.

    It is all cooked in one pan, with each element decanted into separate bowls and kept warm.

    1. Chinese five spice eggplant.

    Cut eggplant into medium thick slices, quarter and toss with flour and five spice powder.

    Sauté quickly in olive oil until browned and soft in the middle. Remove from pan onto paper towel.

    2. Spicy carrots.

    Slice carrots into sticks. Chop garlic, ginger and fresh chilli. Segment a couple of naartjies. Sauté carrots for a minute or two until just starting to brown. Add the naartjie segments, garlic, ginger and chilli. Continue sautéing until the garlic is just starting to brown. Remove from heat and sprinkle with dried mint and a pinch of sea salt.

    3. Cashew courgettes

    Slice courgettes lengthwise into quarters. Sauté with cashew nuts until starting to brown. Sprinkle with pul biber and a squeeze of lime. Remove from heat.

    4. Chicken with delish sauce

    Add shredded roast chicken to pan, add Indonesian sweet soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir through and taste to check it is the right balance of salty and sweet. Simmer til just thickened and add a squeeze of lemon.

    Hügelkultur – sort of!

    Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the May 16th, 2019

    Years ago I created a vegetable garden for my Dad, whose back was starting to give him trouble. I used an upturned swimming pool pump cover placed on an old table. Instead of filling the entire volume with costly growing medium, I filled the curved base with a thick layer of branches pruned from a Pride of India. These were covered with a deep layer of fertile growing medium. A year or so later my Mom said she “didn’t know what was going on with Dad’s vegetable garden. It’s full of Pride of India saplings! Where could they have come from?” 🤣

    Fast forward to this week in my garden. I have two new lovely raised beds from Rain Queen.

    I have been reading about hügelkultur and thought I’d try a version in my new raised beds. But I remembered my experience with Dad’s garden, so I used well aged logs. We split them and packed the base with them (positioned vertically) and covered them with leaves, wetting and squishing them to fill the gaps.

    This filled the raised beds about two thirds. I dribbled EM over the logs (Effective Micro organisms) and added some mycorrhizal fungi. The EM will encourage the logs to break down and the fungi will help the plants’ roots take up more nutrients.

    I then covered the logs with a rich layer of compost, coco peat and Fertilis, with some Talborne Vita Veg mixed in.

    And planted up the raised bed with seedlings.

    I love experimenting with new ways of doing things. We will see how this one grows!!

    Squash slices with haloumi, salsa and yoghurt.

    Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the March 24th, 2019

    • Cut squash into thick slices. Sprinkle with spices of your choice. (I used a mix of Herbes de Provence, dried chipotle chilli, salt and pepper.) Sprinkle with flour.
    • Heat olive oil in cast iron pan and cook squash until nicely browned on both sides.
    • While squash cooks, cut ends off red onion and cut in half. Cook in a smaller cast iron pan, turning a few times, until almost blackened on cut sides.
    • Cook haloumi slices in a little olive oil til browned.
    • Chop cherry toms, fruit salad plant fruit and jalapeño. Mix in bowl together with mirin, white wine vinegar, dried mint, salt and pepper. Toss.
    • Mix yoghurt with dried mint and a pinch of salt. Toss roast pine nuts on top and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with pul biber (Turkish red pepper).
    • Just before serving reheat squash slices and onion.
    • Place squash on bed of baby spinach, add halloumi and red onion and top with salsa. Drizzle with pomegranate concentrate.
    • Serve with yoghurt and crisp sour dough bread to mop it all up.

    Crunchy (sort of) Coleslaw

    Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the September 6th, 2018

    We eat with our eyes. This colourful salad has purple & green cabbage, psychedelic watermelon radish & kohlrabi. To balance all this crunch there is mozzarella cheese, avocado and a creamy, slightly sweet & peppery dressing. Roasted pine nuts round it off.


    • Green & purple cabbage, sliced
    • Thinly sliced watermelon radish
    • Kohlrabi cut into sticks
    • Avocado pear slices
    • Chunks of mozzarella
    • Roast pine nuts
  • Dressing
    • Mayonnaise
    • Milk
    • Dash of sweet chilli sauce
    • Dried chilli flakes to taste
    • Lemon juice
    • Pepper & salt to taste


    Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the August 5th, 2018

    Best potatoes ever!

    Roast potatoes with sundried onion slivers, chopped parsley and a sprinkle of salt, on a bed of rocket with a squeeze of lemon.

    So yum!

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