Cheese & Onion Bread with Red Pesto

Did you know that last Saturday was the Winter Solstice for us royals in the southern hemisphere? What this means is that we’ve passed the mid-winter mark, and are on our way towards Spring!

We thought this called for a #winterwonderful feast.

This is what we have in mind: make a pot of your favourite soup, bake a loaf of Sam Linsell’s addictive bread, which has our Red Pepper Pesto as the secret ingredient, and then, compliment this with Sir Michael’s cheese board selection below, and a glass or two of Ben Prins’ warming Port style wine. According to Sir Michael, it smells like “ripe black cherries, whiffs of violets and dark red rose petals, spice and quality dark chocolate.”

This feast certainly is #fitforroyalty!

Cheese & Onion Bread with Red Pesto**

You will need
3 brown onions, peeled & finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 star anise pods (optional)
500g self-raising flour
1 cup mature cheddar, grated
¼ cup Pesto Princess Red Pesto
½ tsp salt
1 cup / 250ml buttermilk
½ cup water

How to
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F and line a medium bread loaf pan with baking paper*

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the onions and star anise over a gentle heat for 8-12 minutes until they are soft and just starting to turn golden. Set aside, removing the star anise, and allow to cool slightly.

Sift the flour and add the salt and cheese. Add the cooled onions and mix. Stir the red pesto through the buttermilk and add this along with the water to the flour. Gently mix with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough is formed.

Spoon the dough into the lined loaf pan and bake for 1½ hours until golden brown on top. You will know your bread is done when a sharp knife or skewer inserted into the thickest part comes out clean as a cat’s conscience.

To prevent the top from browning too much, it may be necessary to cover the loaf loosely with foil from about 40 minutes into the baking time.

* Sam, who created the recipe for this winter edition, advises that we do not skip this step, as lining the tin prevents the loaf from getting too brown, or developing a crust that is hard.

** Roxy, our designer, got to take home this loaf after the shoot.
She has not stopped raving…

For our #winterwonderful feast, Sir Michael has recommended a selection of local cheeses, as well as an interesting Port style wine that I have still to try.
We’ve had a #royalspoil!

Michael Olivier’s Choice

I like a cheese board that offers not too much choice, but does offer some really varying cheeses. I am fond, as are most South Africans of a little sweet with the cheese so green figs or watermelon preserve would be my choice. An excellent black olive paste goes well with a slice of good hard cheese. Morgenster is my favourite.

So my cheese choices would be

Dalewood Fromage Huguenot – a hard cheese made by Rob and Petrina Visser in Klapmuts from the milk of their pasture-fed cows.

Fairview Chevin, the plain one. Deliciously creamy and works well with the olive paste and the fig or watermelon.

Simonzola – a delicious blue cheese. Originally made in a cheesery in Sedgefield by a Danish Cheesemaster. It has not lost its charm for me.

Camembert – Woolworths have one in a little wooden box which you can bake in the oven.

Parma Prince – this is a hard cheese similar in style to Parmiggiano Regiano. Made by Gay van Hasselt, at her Guernsey Cheesery in Prince Albert. While it is generally regarded as a cooking and grating cheese, I love the heartiness of the cheese and the little crystallised enzymes in it.

As a wine choice, I prefer a sweet wine with cheese, the choice then would be Muratie Ben Prins Cape Vintage 2009, a Port style wine. I knew Ben Prins in the 1970s, he habitually wore shorts and no shoes in the winery. He was winemaker for George Canitz and later his daughter Annemie whom I knew well.

The vineyard where the grapes for this wine are grown is a mixed planting of traditional Portuguese Port grapes, Tinta Barocca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Francesca and Souzao, so a field blend happens before the grapes even arrive at the cellar.

Muratie Ben Prins Cape Vintage 2009

It looks like: Deep ruby and luscious legs running down the glass.
It smells like: Ripe black cherries, whiffs of violets and dark red rose petals, spice and quality dark chocolate.
It tastes like: One thread from first taste to the long lingering aftertaste. Christmas cake, plums, black berries and cherries with ripe and firm tannins on the aftertaste. The fortifying spirit wraps itself like a whisper around the flavours.


Recipe, styling & photography – Sam Linsell
Art direction & design – Roxanne Spears of Good Design


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