This recipe is inspired by a couple of dishes we tried at Reuben’s restaurants in Franschhoek and Robertson. For those of you that don’t know, Reuben Riffel is the Chef Patron of the, now very successful chain of Reuben’s restaurants in South Africa. The first restaurant opened in Franschhoek seven or eight years ago and put the town well and truly on the map as a culinary destination. Reuben’s food is all about flavour and freshness of ingredients and has a definite world influence. His consistency has kept this popular award-winning restaurant at the top of the ever-increasing number of fine-dining establishments in the town. Which is why, I presume they decided to open another one.
Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel is an oasis of calm, serenity and cool styling. I had to physically restrain myself from diving (dream on) into the pool that lies adjacent to the suites as we arrived at the restaurant. Our table overlooked the pool area but luckily the menu was enough to take my mind off of that view.
The menu is typically Reuben. For starters we chose the water, summer & sweet melon salad with poppy-seed dressing, light & refreshing. The marinated mixed tomato, artichoke salad, olive caramel, deep-fried boconccini, pesto, tomato chutney. The deep-fried boconccini mozzarella balls were beautiful (must try at home soon) and came with the best tomatoes I’ve had for a long time. The Washer Up had the double baked gruyere souffle, waldorf salad, raisin puree, vanilla citrus vinaigrette. The souffle was light and flavourful, excellent with the sweet raisin puree which I recreated to go with this tart.
The main courses that lead me to this recipe came from both restaurants. Goat’s cheese ravioli, yellow pepper essence, pine nuts, confit tomato, spinach and olives from The Robertson and Butternut Ravioli, melting goat’s cheese mousse, pine nuts, tomato, yellow pepper essence from Reuben’s in Franschhoek. Mine is a mash-up of both.
Oh, and the desserts are to die for. Bon Courage white muskadel creme brulee, poached plum, plum ice cream. Heaven.
Vanilla Panna Cotta, lemon thyme poached peaches, apricot sorbet, enough said.
Affogato: vanilla ice cream, Klipdrift gold brandy, hazelnuts, hot espresso shot. I’m going to try this at home but with frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) next time
The thing about Reuben’s food is the flavour. Every dish has a small amount of chilli in it. You don’t really notice the heat it just enhances all the other flavours. I love it. Oh, I forgot about the side dishes they do a Parmesan Truffle Oil Mash which is the most comfortingly addictive thing I have ever tasted. I didn’t get a picture because we ate it too fast.
This is my version of a Reuben dish. I made a wholemeal pasta dough with spelt flour rather than 00 flour. It actually worked really well. I’ve had disasters with wholemeal pasta before but the spelt flour seemed to be better. I did leave the dough in the fridge to rest overnight as well though. This may have helped it firm up more.
I contacted Reuben’s for the recipes and they, very kindly, sent me a few different ones. The mushroom filling is from one dish (I added the goat’s cheese) and the Cape Malay butternut sauce is from a completely different dish. It may sound odd but it all balances out well and tastes great. The only thing I may do differently next time is trim some of the “skirt” of the raviolis (above) so that there isn’t so much double layer dough, or even use more filling to reach nearer the edges.
The confit tomatoes are intense little balls of flavour that burst in your mouth. I will definitely make these again, for pasta or salads or anything really. You may think life is too short to peel cherry tomatoes and I do kind of agree with you but, it means they soak up all of the garlicky herb oil they are soaked in. You could just saute them in a pan to save time.
Mushroom Goat Cheese Ravioli
Serves 2, vegetarian. Adapted from the Reuben’s recipe
- 200 gr ’00’ flour (I used spelt flour)
- 2 large eggs
Mix together in a processor until it forms a dough. Bring together, knead for a minute, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours. I left mine overnight.
- 12 chestnut (or mixed) mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 small sprig rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 tsp soy sauce + 1 tsp sugar (or 2 tsp kecap manis)
- 2 tsp Worcester sauce
- about 30 gr goat cheese, cubed
- 1 egg, beaten for sealing raviolis
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over a medium high heat and cook the mushrooms and rosemary for a minute. Add the soy, sugar and Worcester sauce and saute until the mushrooms are dark, soft and the liquid has all been absorbed. Leave to cool completely before filling the raviolis.
Roll out the pasta dough, on a well floured surface with a rolling-pin or pasta machine until 1mm thin. Cut out circles about 7cm in diameter. Take a tablespoon of the (cooled) mushroom filling and place on one side of the circle. Top with a piece of goat cheese. Brush the edges with the beaten egg and fold it over to cover the filling. Press down around the filling to get rid of any air bubbles and make sure the edges are sealed and there are no holes in the dough. You can cut off some of the excess skirt of the ravioli if you think there is too much. Place on a tray on a piece of baking paper until ready to cook. Store in the fridge if necessary.
To cook: carefully lower them into a large pan of salted, boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. They should float and look softer. Drain and serve immediately with your choice of sauce.
Garlic & Herb Confit Tomatoes
Serves 2, vegan, gluten-free
- about 175 gr cherry tomatoes
- 25 ml white balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- 100 ml olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, sliced finely
- 1 shallot, sliced finely
- 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 1 small sprig fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
- sea salt & black pepper
Put a cross in the bottom of each tomato, put in a bowl and pour over boiling water till covered. Leave for 20-30 seconds, drain and then shock in iced water for 30 seconds. Peel immediately.
Warm the oil, vinegar, herbs, garlic and shallot over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Pour this over the peeled tomatoes and leave for at least two hours at room temperature before serving. Reheat in a pan with some of the oil. Season with sea salt & black pepper just before serving.
Cape Malay Butternut Squash Sauce/Soup
This makes a lot of sauce so I used it as a soup for lunch the next day as well.
- 600 ml veg stock
- 1 tbsp Cape Malay spice mix (see my recipe here)
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 celery leaves & tops, chopped
- 750 ml grated butternut squash
- 400 ml milk/cream (I used oat milk)
- 1 tsp palm sugar/brown sugar
- a squeeze of fresh lemon
- 1 tin (400 ml) coconut milk (optional)
- salt to taste
Put the stock, squash, Malay spices, onion, garlic and celery leaves in a large pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook for about 10 minutes until the squash is soft. Add the milk, season with the salt, sugar and bring to the boil again. Cook for a few minutes to reduce slightly.
Remove from the heat and carefully blend with a stick blender until smooth. You can serve as it is or add a tin of coconut milk to make it more soupy. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and taste for seasoning.
I used a potato peeler to make some courgette ribbons which I heated through with the tomatoes and toasted off some pine nuts. Some baby basil leaves and fresh rocket look pretty for a garnish too.
For more information about Reuben’s restaurants and The Small Hotel visit their website here