Monday, 29 April 2013

Fine dining in Lewisham

Fine Dining in Lewisham

Fish, prawn, mushrooms + chips and dips.

Bean, aubergine and chicken curry + biryani (rice) with a selection of chutneys.


Fine Dining
 -  1st June 2013

6.30pm - 9.00pm.

You are invited to an evening of fine dining.

The three course meal takes place around one table and provides a great opportunity to socialise with other guests in a warm and friendly environment. The theme for the menu is 'the takeaway' and includes drinks.

Whether you come with your friends, family or on your own you're sure to have a stimulating evening.

Follow us on Twitter @dbfoods.

denver bennett on paul hollywood's bread -  bbc 2 television
Denver Bennett on BBC2 - Paul Hollywood's Bread LINK

Ackroyd Centre
Ackroyd Road
London SE23 1DL.

"I very much enjoyed Saturday at the Ackroyd - this was a first for us. Where will the next one be? All food delicious" - RSN.

"Enjoying Denver's pop up restaurant at the Ackroyd food to die for" - Councillor Pauline Morrison.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012


UMNGQUSHO (Samp and Beans)

Umngqusho (Xhosa for Samp and Beans),  Afrikaans: Mielies en Bone.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


Vetkoek (Afrikaans), or as I got to know it later Magwinya (Xhosa)  is a traditional and popular South African treat, made from flour, yeast, salt and sugar. The dough when ready is deep fried and becomes like a muffin with a bread taste that is enjoyed in all sorts of ways. The best way for me to enjoy a vetkoek is with only butter (salted) when it has just come out of the pan. Recently some customers here in the UK have likened the vetkoek to dumplings  and said it was just  much lighter.  Fat Cake is a literal translation for the Afrikaans word Vetkoek that is pronounced fatcookEvery home in South Africa will know Vetkoek, it is always made as a substitute to bread especially as a quick alternative when the house is without bread. Sometimes it is made from the leftover dough of loaves of bread. Even though it is fried in oil it is not very oily at all.  Anyone learning how to knead bread will tell you that the bonus of it all is when the decision is made to make a few vetkoek too! 

Vetkoek has also become a commercial fast food, some have come to call it bunny chow although bunny chow is really a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry.  The connection between the two being the filling with curry. When I was a self supporting student at university I had a small  company selling fast foods to earn a living.  My main business was selling Vetkoek with curry every Friday morning to a great number of regular customers, almost all the staff at the local banks and some schools.  I sometimes had to make up to 400 Vetkoek and fill them with curry and on the odd occasion had to provide a vegetarian alternative for a few customers who did not want to miss out on the Vetkoek.

Vetkoek and Mince Curry

My Vetkoek are made using either Plain or Strong flour. In South Africa I had to stock loads of ingredients because at times I would be asked to provide more even though I had sold out. As an easy fast food I always made a Beef mince curry. The combination of the two works exceptionally well and people will come back for more. To offer my UK customers an opportunity to experience this delectable delicacy I've extended the combinations with other signature flavours from South Africa such as Boerewors or Beef Burgers. These seem to work well too and I've also served it with soup (lovely in winter).


Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Last Friday I catered for a private view of an artist exhibiting at the Greenwich Information Centre. At this event I wanted to demonstrate to the guests the simplicity and unique quality that makes South African finger bites so special. On offer were: potato and coriander samosas, cheese and onion samosas, chicken liver pate canapés, smoked trout pate canapés, smoked salmon and cream cheese canapés, vetkoek (Fat Cake) plain and Surprise (usually with a vienna inside), spinach fritters, crudités and some of my very own pickles and relishes for dips.
Plain Vetkoek (Fat Cakes)

Potato and coriander Samosas
Cheese and Onion Samosas

Surprise Vetkoek, Chicken liver Canapés,
Salt Beef bites

 L to R:  Tomato Relish,Vegetable Pickle,
Fruit Chutney and Lime Pickle
Samosas, Smoke Trout and
Smoke Salmon Canapés 
Samosas and
 Spinach Fritters
Although some of the finger bites on offer clearly had vegetarians in mind it was enjoyed by everyone. The samosas, the spinach fritters and vetkoek were a particular hit and was much enjoyed complemented by all the homemade pickles and relishes.  As a caterer it was interesting to note that of all the condiments on the table the Lime Pickle was a particular favourite. I had one guest asking if I had any available to sell! I do enjoy catering for small corporate functions. The intimacy of such events make it possible to offer people exactly what they enjoy which is most of all the unique South African delicacies on offer.
Chicken bites,
Cocktail Frikkadels
Surprise Vetkoek,
Chicken liver Canapés,
Salt Beef bites

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Dear Aunt Kate always made PICKLED VEGETABLES for Easter. She always kept a huge bottle in the fridge. The simplicity of this pickle made it a regular item during the year too and always ensured a little unusual treat on a plate or with a sandwich.

As a caterer my aunt was exceptionally busy in her retirement but she would regularly get a visitor who used to be one of her supervisors in the factory where she worked all her life. This lady made the mistake of always coming to visit at the wrong time when my aunt was at her busiest. My aunt did not mind giving her food but just sometimes got annoyed that she would just rock up unannounced and anticipate a treat. In the Pickled Vegetables my aunt always put long green chillies and if not careful it could be mistaken for a green bean.  This is what this lady did one day taking some vegetable out of the pickle bottle and bit into it. Poor old lady, she did not visit for a while, that's all I can say......

Well the pickling is very simple: carrots, beans, onions, green chillies and on the rare occasion gherkins would be prepared and packed in the bottle. The vinegar is simply boiled with sugar and poured over the vegetables before sealing it.  I have developed it a little further by adding several different spices to create a slightly milder and mellow tasting pickle. The pickles, because of the vinegar always go well with fish fried in batter, but also adds a nice zing to cold meats!


Our neighbour in my hometown had a whole row of fig trees that use to separate the two yards along the fence. As children we enjoyed picking the figs that hung over the fence but we had to watch out for the old man next door who got very upset if he saw us pick it! We never really stopped, how can one resist a lovely ripe fig! It would have been eaten by the birds in any case......

My aunt (not aunt Kate) also had a huge fig tree and she always made lovely Fig jam. My mother would inevitably get a few bottles 'for the boys' and oh how lovely it was on a slice of toast! I first experimented with making FIG PRESERVE when I lived in Johannesburg and a friend asked me to pick the fruit from her tree as she had no use for it. I would pick them quite green as she did not want the birds to come and fight over it. As the fruit is still quite firm it does not soften up enough to make a jam unless you cut the fruit in pieces.  I wanted the fruit to be cooked whole and this led me to create a preserve that later on demonstrated its diverse uses. Figs go well with fresh ginger too and this makes it a rather easy preserve to make. The fruit is cleaned and boiled until fairly tender but still retaining its form. The water is drained and the fruit weighed. Equal amounts of fruit and sugar are combined, a little water added as well as fresh ginger strips and cinnamon sticks. When the fruit has become translucent it is ready for bottling. 

Over the years of experimentation I've come to add one more ingredient, brandy.  This makes the syrup quite unique ensuring a beautiful preserve with a delicate yet quite subtle flavour, not overly sweet at all.

Apart from enjoying it on a slice of toast, it also has become quite a hit as a summer starter or dessert. Take a bed of rocket, blue cheese, parma ham and  top it with one fig in syrup! 


Making samosas is a very labour intensive as well as time consuming activity, but very very rewarding.  I normally start by making the filling first.  This allows time for it to drain off all access liquids as the aim is to have a filling that won't make the samosa soggy from the inside. On this occasion I made a potato and coriander filling.

The pictures show the whole process of creating the filling for the samosas. After preparing the filling the next step is to create the leaves that make the samosa. This is the major time consuming part of the whole process. The aim is to create a dough that is quite dry and stiff.  It has to work well later when applying all the oil to make it stretch for baking in layers.  The dough is left for ten minutes to rest and then divided into small balls to flatten. When flattened into round strips, it is brushed with oil and placed one on top of the other. The top dry side of the strip is then brushed again with oil and another two strips are stacked on top. I normally only work with four strips but it is believed that in Asian culture some  expert women can stack up to twenty layers at one time and work perfectly with it. This is the delicate part that requires one to work carefully ensuring that each strip is thoroughly brushed in oil. The purpose thereof is to ensure that each strip will separate after baking. Every batch brings with it its own challenges. The video below demonstrates the whole process from start to finish, making the dough, creating the leaves, baking them, separating and then cutting them into strips for folding.  It then demonstrates how a samosa is folded.

I make beef or chicken samosas as well as various vegetarian fillings such as potato and coriander or cheese and onion. The samosas are then vacuum sealed and refrigerated for use when necessary.