Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

Filtering by Tag: Cooked IV


Justin Bonello / TVSA (p)

Justin Bonello / TVSA (p)


Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

I've been away with the Justin Bonello's "Cooked" TV crew and what an adventure it has been. A series of this nature required long hours of hard work and Justin and his team displayed dedication and commitment to getting the best shots for us, the viewers.

I was constantly reminded of the extraordinary beauty of our country. We stayed at Thonga Beach Lodge where perfect conditions allowed us to snorkel with dolphins, scuba dive and enjoy sundowners in the company of a bloat of hippos. This idyllic setting was the backdrop for Justin's birthday. Carl, the head chef, made him an extremely decadent chocolate cake which reminded me of my past birthday cake a red velvet chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.

The welcome from the Kosi Forest Lodge team included South Africans' favourite dessert - Malva pudding. It's always a winner especially when served with homemade vanilla ice cream. Our time there was minimal but the experience maximum we were charged by a family of hippos while we were canoeing down one of the estuaries. This could have ended up as a horror documentary instead of a laid-back cooking/travel show! The experience left us ravenous and ready for a feast of hearty dishes. Supplies in the market place were limited but we made the most of what we had. Justin braaied a spicy beef fillet and cooked up a textured amadumbi and potato creamy mash. I selected shiny green avocado pears and made a typical guacamole that we served on the side of the main course. Oozing decadent chocolate and pecan nut brownies were up next. Juicy oranges provided a fresh component for the star anise marinated orange slices. This was served with a simple honey mascarpone.

The few days away from the Hartford House kitchen were educational and inspirational. They left me with a new respect for nature, the movie industry - and most of all they illustrated how much scope there is when it comes to preparing innovative and exciting dishes.

Take these recipes and try them.



Rice Krispies and Date Bars / Jackie Cameron (p)

Rice Krispies and Date Bars / Jackie Cameron (p)


Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Excitement mounted in the Hartford House kitchen when Justin Bonello of Cooked in Africa fame, and his talented crew, stepped into our kitchen! We may be off the well-worn tracks but we’re right up there with the best, and Hartford is one of 13 venues to be featured in the next series of Cooked IV (BBC Lifestyle). Here viewers will have the opportunity to see top South African restaurants and watch their celebrated chefs host this larger-than-life personality.

I asked Justin his opinion regarding the optimum age for introducing young children to the basics of cooking. He told me, Dan, his 12-year-old son was already a “pro” at making fun, good-tasting items such as crumpets, pancakes, jaffles and “the most wicked spaghetti and meatballs”. 

With the extra-long June holiday looming some homemade goodies will keep children entertained. Bear in mind this time in the kitchen will be for personal pleasure so sweet, chocolatey items that require little effort will be winners. The first treat that springs to mind is a deliciously simple chocolate fridge tart. A rich, textured flavour that is most dad’s favourite. Remember to save him a slice!

Justin reminds me about rice krispies-bars. His version sounds more like a rice krispies brittle. My straightforward, rice krispies-and-date bar recipe results in a crispy texture meeting the sweetness of dates. Another variation is mixing rice krispies with melted marshmallows. Scrumptiously sweet!

From an early age, my sister and I would whip up a chocolate sponge cake when craving a little sweetness. This recipe has been made more times than anyone can remember. The page is yellow with age and the words splattered with ingredients but it doesn’t matter because we girls know the recipe by heart.

Every Christmas my sister and I would give our teachers a large glass jar filled with picture-perfect homemade coconut ice. We’d cover the lids with pink and white gingham material. So pretty! We still claim we made them but Mom smiles because she knows better…

Fairy cakes, as we called them, are another popular tasting treat. Before cooking sprinkle with sugar. This eliminates the need for icing. Served hot with the crispy, crunchy topping of caramelised sugar these cakes are decadently more-ish. Invite friends for tea!

In my opinion, pancake making is the key to a balanced, well-rounded childhood. Everyone enjoys showing off flipping skills. Entertaining in-deed!

These activities, as well as opportunities to experiment with flavour combinations, will ensure your children get pleasure out of cooking. They will learn food cooked with love has a flavour no recipe can provide.

Take these recipes and try them.

cup cake


justin bonello cooked in africa

Justin Bonello
(Photo : Cooked In Africa Films / Penguin Books)


Hartford House has been selected as one of the prized venues to be featured in the new season of Cooked IV! Selection depends on the venue representing Exceptional Quality and Outstanding Service. These criteria are blended and upheld with the great pride and effort we put into the food and wine experience of our guests. 

"The hugely successful cooking and lifestyle show COOKED with shooting star Justin Bonello – South Africa’s Outdoor Cook, will present us and the few top South African restaurants and their celebrated chefs, while honing his skills under their expertise.

Watch us on BBC Lifestyle from August 2010. We are proud to be broadcast locally to almost one million DSTV viewers in Africa and internationally to over 100 countries.

Justin Bonello has produced 3 seasons of his original cooking and lifestyle show COOKED, the first season of the Getaway to Africa travel series as well as the Exploring the Vine wine series. In addition, the first Justin Bonello cookbook entitled Cooked In Africa which is published by Penguin was the Exclusive Books Book of the Year 2009!"