Easy-to-follow Healthy Recipes from the Friedberg Sisters
There are two young girls who live in an old house in Cape Town. It’s a Victorian classic, nestled below Table Mountain, with a long garden path to a grand front door. When the wind blows, the loose strands of the cerise bougainvillea flap wildly, as if reaching out to the huge old palm tree near the garden gate. A rusty barrel braai [barbeque] sits neglected, casually, under an overgrown hedge.
The girls, twins in their mid twenties, have a similar relaxed, easy, no-fuss air about them. Their bedrooms are also alike: white linen sheets, muslin curtains float gently in front of old sash windows, wooden floors are comfortably scuffed, books are vintage, well thumbed, and eclectic.
They shared a womb… and it feels, in this home, as if they still do. It holds them both. As if without the other, it, and either of them, would be incomplete.
Jesse and Jamie are not identical, yet they fluidly finish each other’s sentences, comfortable in the knowledge that whoever spoke would do so in harmony with the other.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, we drive each other mad,” says Jesse with Jamie adding: “…we’re terribly close, beyond close.” They call each other “kid” and tell their story, fluidly jumping into the other’s speech.
“We left university to open a café,” says Jesse. “Those lectures and all that stuffiness felt way too stifling,” explains Jamie: “Even though we were warned about the perils of earning a living by running a café, it was just such a big dream for us.”
“Then came this moment while we were lying in bed one morning, talking about it,” says one. “I didn’t want to do it, but on the shelf in front of us was the book Skinny Legs & All by Tom Robbins… and that’s when we looked at each other,” (they both giggle)… and the other says: “…and we just knew that with a name like that, we should definitely do it!”
Amaranth porridge and orange-roasted apples (4 To 6 Servings)
6 small apples (we like the Honeycrunch variety)
2 tbsp pure maple or agave syrup
1 tbsp cold-pressed coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 cups amaranth seeds (soaked in water for 8 hours or more)
3 cups fresh unsweetened nut milk (we usually use almond)
2 tbsp pure maple or agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla powder
A pinch of sea salt
Pistachios (unsalted and crushed)
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F. Halve the apples and in a small bowl, combine the juice of the orange with the syrup and coconut oil. Place the apples on a baking tray and brush them with the orange-maple mix. Dust with cinnamon and roast for 20-25 minutes until they begin to golden.
Place the soaked amaranth, nut milk, vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer—stirring constantly—for 4 to 5 minutes (The porridge can be eaten as is, or whizzed in your blender for a creamier finish). To serve, top with the roasted pears, coconut flakes, and crushed pistachios.
Raw carrot cake with cashew cream frosting
1 cup / 120g walnuts
1 cup / 150g Medjool dates, pitted
2 cups / 260g grated carrots (about 4 carrots)
3/4 cup / 60g desiccated coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp pink Himalayan rock salt
3/4 cup / 135g golden raisins
Cashew cream frosting (makes 5 cups):
3 3/4 cups / 560g cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
3/4 cup pure maple syrup or raw honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp pink Himalayan rock salt
1 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
For the frosting:
After soaking the cashews, drain and rinse well. In a blender, combine all the frosting ingredients and blend at high speed until perfectly smooth. Be sure to place the liquids in first—this allows the blades to spin more easily. Transfer to an airtight container and place in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours to firm (it will be very pourable after blending).
For the cake:
Line the base and sides of a 16cm spring-form cake tin. Place the walnuts in a food processor and whizz into small pieces. Add the dates and process until the mixture is well combined and sticky. Squeeze the grated carrots over a colander to remove any excess liquid (the drier the carrots the better!). Add the carrots to the mix and pulse until just combined. Add all the remaining ingredients (except the raisins) and pulse one or two more times. Fold the raisins through the batter and divide in half. To make your first tier, gently press one half of the mixture into the cake tin and spread with a generous layer of cashew cream frosting. Repeat for the second tier.
“When the universe offered us the opportunity to rent the space of the João Ferreira gallery, with its pretty pressed ceilings and huge street-facing window, we went for it.”
The Friedberg girls became known as the makers of exquisite, carefully prepared breakfasts and lunches, served personally by Jesse (with Jamie preferring to be in the kitchen) at their gorgeous Skinny Legs & All café in Cape Town’s trendy Loop Street. It was an intimate affair, much like their current catering venture, where their expression of their shared passion for natural healthy food tapped straight into the trend of mindful, conscious eating and living.
“They were the best eggs in town, prepared on a cast iron pan at just the right heat. We never took a single morning off. It was total dedication. Jamie scrambled every egg that was served. It was almost impossible to teach someone else how to do it.”
“She just had this special knack of big circle motions so that they were really loose and scrambled, not bitsy,” recalls Jesse.
“We served them with thyme-infused butterballs on sourdough bread, paired with seriously tasty slow roasted tomatoes, fresh juice, and chai teas. Every invoice was handwritten in Jesse’s insanely tiny and neat print,” says her sister. “It was quirky in an understated way.”
Three years later, they sold the business and launched “As We Please,” a bespoke catering company, which they run from their beautifully spacious, pared-down home. Their kitchen, at the back of the house, is a small, almost oldfashioned space, equipped with select appliances and honest utensils—a solid cast iron frying pan, a sturdy five-plate gas stove, wooden and marble worktops, and very sharp knives. The cupboards are treasured hand-me-downs; their dishcloths are linen. Its simplicity echoes the nature of their food: honest, wholesome, and healthy using pure organic ingredients bought from local farmers’ markets, and an abundance of seeds and legumes from specialist health stores.
Jesse is lithe and ethereal and moves almost like the pre-storm wind outside: first from the sink where she meticulously scrubs a pot while explaining how they’ve had to make ends meet, then to the front of the house to collect a picture of her dad, “a free spirit, our mad hatter with a wonderful way with words.”
Goan Fish Curry
4 skinless salmon fillets, about 250g each
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed garlic puree
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 to 1 tsp chilli powder
250ml coconut milk
2-3 fresh green chillies, sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Large handful of coriander, chopped
1 1/3 cup short-grain brown rice
Cook the short-grain brown rice according to the packaging instructions. Season the salmon fillets with the lemon juice and 1/2tsp sea salt. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil and onion and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes until it turns a pale golden coulor. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute. Follow with the turmeric, coriander, cumin, and chilli powder, and stir for another mniute or so. Add the coconut milk, chillies, and vinegar, together with 1/2 tsp salt and simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 minutes. Finally, add the fish and cook gently for 5 to 6 minutes. Finish with fresh coriander and serve straight away with the rice .
Roasted Pumpkin with a Saffron Quinoa Salad (Serves 4)
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
400g Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1/2 cup roasted pistachios
1/3 cup golden raisins
Seeds of 2 pomegranates
1 tsp saffron
2 tsp cinnamon
Handful of Italian parsley, roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice of half an orange
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 250°C / 480°F. Cut the pumpkin into big chunks and place on an oven tray. Drizzle with olive oil, add a sprinkling of sea salt and cinnamon, and roast for 20 to 25 minutes. Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts. Add some olive oil to a saucepan and sauté for a few minutes— leave to cool.
To cook the quinoa, combine it with the saffron and 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the grains uncurl and become translucent. Add the golden raisins while still warm and set aside.
For the dressing, simply whisk together all the ingredients.
To serve, combine all the salad ingredients (quinoa, Brussels sprouts, parsley, nuts and pomegranates) in a large bowl and spoon over the pumpkin wedges. Finish with a generous drizzle of dressing and a little extra parsley if you like.
Jamie seems to hold the ground more solidly, uninterrupted by her task of weighing amaretti biscuits on a scale, lacing her fingers gently in water as she sets them, one by one, on an enamel tray, lined with baking paper. Steady, rooted, and her sister’s anchor, Jamie is back at her side, to pick up their story: “The best decision we’ve ever made is to stick together… It was a challenging time when we moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town to study but we learnt to draw on each other’s strengths.”
Replies Jesse: “We’re a good team, and I think we’ve done our best with what we have. I suppose our home is a reflection of that—limited, but beautiful.”
And so it goes... their companionship is delightful, a real testament to “two is company.”
Words by: Natanya Mulholland / bureaux.co.za | Styling by: Sven Alberding / bureaux.co.za | Photography by: Greg Cox/ bureaux.co.za |
Originally published in Philippine Tatler Homes, Volume 20