Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen is the first South African chef to obtain a coveted Michelin Star. He grew up in Mpumalanga where his culinary journey began – at the tables of his mother and grandmother. It was there he learnt about true South African hospitality which became the foundation of JAN – his award winning restaurant situated in Nice, France.
Jan – A breathe of French Air is his second cookbook and is filled with recipes that capture French cuisine, the high end dishes you’ll find on the JAN menu and unmistakable South African dishes (mosbolltjies and a biltong and crisp sandwich). The book is divided into chapters according to the featured ingredient – bread, fish, meat, produce, pastries, cheese, bite sized dessert and quick midnight meals. At the beginning of each chapter – labelled by its French name, there is an explanation and story that transports you to the French Riveria and the kitchen of JAN.
The pictures that accompany the recipes are stunning, and the plating, showcasing food displayed as edible art left me mesmerized. The recipes, while not basic and fast, aren’t crazy complicated and are all tagged by level of difficulty. If you love French cuisine, cooking and fine dining, it’s a cookbook you’ll appreciate and use. It does, unsurprisingly give ingredients in weight – grams and mls, not cups – another reason to get a kitchen scale 😉
It’s a cookbook I know I’ll get much use of and one that I already love. How can you not? You get to learn to cook from a Michelin star chef! I’ve tagged dozens of recipes to make and have already made his Baked fish provencale (which was delicious), butter from scratch (magical) and of course the recipe I’ve chosen to share here – his Roasted Butternut and Almond Quiche. A quiche unlike any other quiche I’ve had. It’s surprisingly hearty and full of flavour despite it’s relatively short ingredient list. It reminds me of a kugel, a traditional Jewish dish, but one that’s dairy and would do well at a Shavout meal.
I made it gluten free by using a gluten free flour blend (this one here), but he uses all-purpose. You can use either . Other than that change, everything is the same as his recipe. I topped mine with almonds and butternut chips which I made by slicing half a butternut thinly (a mandolin slicer is great for this), drizzling with olive oil, salt and pepper and baking at 200C for about 10 minutes until crisp.
Roasted Butternut and Almond Quiche from Jan: A Breath of French Air
- 100 grams gluten free flour you can sub for regular all purpose flour
- 50 grams almond flour
- 75 grams salted butter room temprature
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 500 grams butternut seeded and diced
- olive oil for dizzling
- freshly ground salt and black pepper
- 3 eggs
- 20 grams unsalted butter melted
- 100 grams almond flour
- 100 grams strong cheddar cheese grated
- pinch ground nutmeg
- pinch ground all spice
- pinch ground cumin
- 50 grams flaked almonds
- Make the crust dough by combining the flours and salt in a large bowl. Crumble in the butter, using your hands to mix it in. Add in the egg yolk and mix until a dough forms. If the dough isn't soft enough use a little bit of cold water. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
- To make the filling preheat the oven to 180 C. Place the butternut cubes on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until the butternut is soft. Transfer the butternut to a food processor and blend into a smooth puree. Spoon the mixture in a bowl and add in the melted butter, eggs, cheese, almond flour and spices. Mix well to combine and season with salt and pepper.
- Spray a quiche or cake pan (I used a 20cm pie dish) with nonstick spray. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently lift it by placing the edge on the rolling pin and carefully lifting it. Place in the quiche pan and press lightly with your fingers to even it out. Cut a piece of baking paper and place inside the baking dish. Fill with dried beans or uncooked rice and bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is golden. Remove and leave to cool.
- Fill the pastry shell with he filling mixture and bake in a preheated oven to 180C for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with some flaked almonds a few minutes before the end of the cooking time.
- Serve warm.
Jan: A Breath of French Air was given to us by Penguin Random House and is available here. Penguin Random House nor the author approved or reviewed this piece prior to publication. Opinions are our own. The recipe is reprinted with permission, images are our own.