Flamboyant, charming, elegant – Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, the farm boy from Mpumalanga, now has two restaurants in Nice on the French Riviera – the Michelin star JAN, and MARIA, dedicated to his darling ouma. He shares his favourite festive recipes, which remind him of his mom and ouma.
Marguerite van Wyk
Food is love on a plate.” Ouma Maria Ferreira, Jan Hendrik’s mom, Hessie’s, mother, taught him that. So did his mother. And Ouma Wessie, who has passed on. MARIA is the latest project by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, South Africa’s gastronomic wunderkind. The new restaurant is situated opposite JAN.
He says unequivocally that he wouldn’t be where he is today if it weren’t for Ouma Maria. “With MARIA I wanted to say thank you for the food seed she planted in me and watered every day.”
Christmas is synonymous with simplicity, enjoyment and the dishes he grew up with. His favourites are Ma’s chocolate mousse and Ouma Maria’s meatballs in cabbage leaves. Both recipes feature in The French Affair, his first cookbook (Random House Struik), and are featured in DEKAT’s November/December 2017 edition.
My mother’s chocolate mousse
We have a big family and there is always some sort of gathering on the farm, whether it may be for a birthday or a weekend away from the city. My mother has the ability to whip up food from scratch and this is one of her secrets… It’s easy and delicious.
Preparation time: 3 hrs, including setting in fridge
Cooking time: 5 mins
200g dark chocolate
300g packet pink and white marshmallows
2 x 425ml cans evaporated milk (1 can chilled)
- Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a large glass bowl with the marshmallows. Pour 1 can evaporated milk over the mixture and microwave on medium heat, stirring every 2–3 minutes so the chocolate does not burn.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the chilled can of evaporated milk until frothy and stiff.
- Using a metal spoon, fold the melted chocolate and marshmallows into the beaten evaporated milk. Be sure not to overmix as it needs to stay light and fluffy. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.
DEKAT reader, Jeanne Visser’s, wrote the following e-mail to Jan-Hendrik upon reading about his mom’s chocolate mouse recipe:
Dear Jan Hendrik,
I recently bought a copy of the Nov/December 2017 issue of DeKat and when I read your mother’s chocolate mousse recipe, I nearly laughed out loud.
Thank you for what appears to be the simplest recipe under the sun and I actually can’t wait to try it. And I’ll tell you why.
When I got engaged in 1991 my mother gave me, in a bid that I would somehow manage to make edible food, the 1991 edition of Cook and enjoy it by S.J.A. de Villiers. I used that book a lot in those days, the pages are dotted with evidence of my efforts, and then something very odd happened. My husband and I were invited to a New Year’s Eve party with a whole lot of friends and everybody was asked to contribute to the meal. We decided to make Mrs de Villiers’s “rich chocolate mousse”. My husband, a very good cook, is not a pudding man. And of course, I had no clue. So we followed the recipe (see attached) and seemingly all went well. Except that, by the time we were ready to set off for the party, the mousse was still very runny. No worries, as soon as we arrived at the friends’ house we requested some room in the deep freeze and installed the chocolate mousse pudding there, thinking that by the time it was needed it would be “set”.
It was not.
We pleaded to be excused for our flop then carefully carried the dish outside, trying not to slop on the floor, and poured it down a drain. What on earth!!?? I have not looked at a more recent edition of Mrs S.J.A. de Villiers’s book (it must have been reprinted dozens of times by now) to see if the recipe has been amended. I ask, how is it possible that one can add 500ml of white wine to a mousse pudding? I didn’t even think to question it then. But we thought the whole thing quite hilarious, after we’d stopped blushing.
I think your mother’s chocolate mousse recipe looks flop proof and I love her for that J.
My very best regards,