Food & Drink

Set a Table with Karen Dudley

Restaurateur and My Kitchen Rules judge Karen Dudley shares recipes from her latest cookbook.

Claire Gunn

Best known for her two Woodstock establishments, The Kitchen and The Dining Room, Karen Dudley has become one of South Africa's most favoured cooks and food personalities, recently adding 'My Kitchen Rules South Africa judge' to her repertoire. Dudley has three books to her name, her latest one being Set a Table,which highlights the importance of inviting people over to enjoy a wholesome spread. 

The meals in Set a Table are flavourful and achievable to make at home. Many of the dishes are curated from well-loved items on the The Dining Room menu, and have been refined especially for home cooks. To celebrate the release of Set a Table, we have four recipes from the book that you can try.


Salmon miso cucumber salad

To have this salad in the tiniest Chinese bowl is an elegant delight. A take on a Diana Henry recipe, the flavours are sublime. Serve with chopsticks.


  • 400g salmon fillet
  • 250g cucumber
  • 2T white (or lighter) miso paste
  • 2T mirin
  • 2T light soy sauce
  • 2T rice wine vinegar
  • 1T sunflower oil
  • 1t caster sugar
  • 1T pickled ginger, very finely sliced
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 1t black (or white) sesame seeds
  • 10 g micro leaves


Cut the salmon into matchsticks, roughly ½ cm in size. Cut the cucumber into similar sized matchsticks. In a small bowl, mix the miso paste, mirin, soy sauce, vinegar and oil with the sugar. With your fingers, gently toss the salmon and cucumber in this dressing to coat. Then add the pickled ginger and spring onion (not too much mixing since you don’t want the vegetables to discolour). Make little piles of salad in each bowl. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and top with the micro leaves.

Serves 8


Lamb with harissa fig & Plenty lentils

If you are lucky enough to have a fig tree, this dish would be particularly apt for a late summer dinner. Although figs are sexy, you could use apricots in a similar way or omit the fruity aspect altogether and just use the harissa paste. The Plenty lentils have their origin in the eponymous book by Yotam Ottolenghi.


  • A deboned, butterflied leg of lamb (about 2.5 kg)
  • 3 stalks rosemary, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 8 figs
  • 6 tsp runny honey
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2T water
  • 1T vegetable oil
  • 4t red harissa paste
  • 4t olive oil

For the Plenty lentils

  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3T olive oil
  • 1T vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½t ground cumin
  • 1 ½t ground coriander
  • 4T coriander, chopped
  • 4T mint, chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach, shredded

For the lemon yoghurt dressing

  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup full-cream yoghurt


Prepare a marinade by combing rosemary, garlic, crushed, lemon juice, olive oil. Lay lamb in the marinade, making sure the joint gets maximum exposure. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Before roasting, take lamb out of marinade and allow it to come to room temperature. Roast for an hour or two at 200°C.

While the lamb is roasting, prepare the lentils. You could also prepare the dressing a good few hours in advance, adding the yoghurt at the very end. Place the lentils in a large mixing bowl and season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Fry the onion in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the onions become more translucent, add the minced garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the ground cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, for another 2–3 minutes. Add a dribble of water if you think your onions are looking too dry. Toss the spiced onions through the lentils. Stir through the chopped herbs and the shredded baby spinach.

For the dressing, add the lemon juice and half of the zest to the yoghurt and stir to combine. I like to spoon the yoghurt on top and garnish with the remaining zest. The oily harissa is a great friend to this lemony yoghurt dressing, so when plating, allow some of the spicy red to drizzle over the yoghurt. Cut the figs in half. Mix together the honey, sugar, lemon juice and water. Drizzle over the cut figs to marinate. Add vegetable oil to a hot pan and quickly put all the figs, cut side down in the pan so that they caramelise for a few seconds. Turn the heat down to medium and quickly turn the figs over with your tongs so that the other side of the figs become acquainted with some heat too. Remove from the heat and set aside until you are ready to plate. Stir the harissa paste and olive oil together in a small jug or bowl until well combined.

For platter plating, spoon the lentils down one side of your serving platter. Spoon the lemon yoghurt dressing over the lentils allowing some lentils to be revealed beneath the yoghurt blanket. Slice the lamb into thin slices and lay on the other side of the serving platter. Place the figs all around and drizzle each half with the harissa. If you had a clean, young fig leaf or 2 in your garden, you could place them beneath the sliced lamb for an added wow factor.

Serves 8


Root 'fire' with Béarnaise yoghurt

When Judy Badenhorst, one of the grande dames of the South African food scene, came to my shop for the first time, I felt as though the South African Alice Waters herself had come to visit! Judy began the beloved Old Cape Farmstall – that epicentre of reliably amazing foodstuffs – deep in the ’80s when we South Africans, in apartheid isolation, knew little of ciabatta or balsamic vinegar, celeriac, whole artichokes or tarragon vinegar! I want to honour her zest for life, and the pioneering passion she brought to bringing good things into our world. In this recipe I showcase the roasted vegetables that were staples for my catering company in the ’90s and I make a cheat version of Judy’s yoghurt Béarnaise from The Old Cape Farmstall Cookbook (1983) which boasts such gems as shaken peas, beetroot and horseradish relish, spiced grapes and guava fool… true style is always en vogue. Thank you, Judy Badenhorst!


  • 3 medium carrots, scrubbed or peeled (rainbow ones are quite spectacular)
  • 3 turnips, scrubbed
  • ½ butternut (350g)
  • 1 red medium sweet potato
  • 3 parsnips, peeled
  • 4T vegetable oil
  • 2 medium cooked beetroots
  • 1 cup cooked lentils, flavoured with 1 tbsp olive oil, flaked salt and black pepper

For the Béarnaise yoghurt

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1T tarragon mustard
  • 1T onion, grated
  • 2T tarragon vinegar
  • 1t dried tarragon (or 2T chopped fresh if you can get it!)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup full-cream yoghurt
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

To make the Béarnaise yoghurt, blend the eggs, mustard, onion, tarragon vinegar and dried tarragon together in a food processor and slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil to make a tarragon mayonnaise. Add the yoghurt and blitz to combine then season with salt and white pepper. Chill and set aside until needed.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Cut the root vegetables into long 'kindling' strips of more or less the same size, about 10–13 cm long. Make sure to keep the long tails of the parsnips and carrots. Cut the turnips and beetroot into 1 cm wedges. Pour the oil into a large mixing bowl and toss each kind of vegetable with oil, taking care not to mix the vegetables. Since they all roast for different lengths of time, keeping them separate allows you to manage their cooking better this way. Lay out the strips of vegetable kindling in their families on a baking paper-lined baking tray and blast roast at 220°C for 25–35 minutes depending on the different vegetables. The vegetables should be richly coloured with some dark spots of colour here and there and be tender on the inside. Remove vegetables from the baking tray as they are done. Put others back if need be.

When you are ready to serve, spread a good puddle of the Béarnaise yoghurt on a platter. Build a “fire” of vegetable kindling on top of the yoghurt, inserting roasted beetroot and turnips here and there. Sprinkle the lentils all over the 'fire' and finish with flaked or any fancy salt you like and freshly ground black pepper. If you like, you could add any herb of your choosing as garnish. I’m happy with it just so!

Serves 8


Lemon ice cream with salted caramel popcorn

The clever people who know about food know that when you elevate something pure and good you create enduring memories that restore a quiet pleasure in simple things. This recipe comes mostly from Marcus Wareing’s celebration of British food in The Gilbert Scott Book of British Food. It is a beautiful book and this recipe has been assimilated with gratitude into our repertoire.

For the salted caramel popcorn

  • 40g popcorn kernels
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Good-quality lemon or granadilla curd, to serve

For the lemon ice cream

  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) cream, lightly whipped
  • 1 ½ lemons, grated zest and juice
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100ml (6T) water
  • 3 free-range eggs, 2 of them separated Into yolks and whites


Pop the popcorn in a little oil in a large, covered saucepan. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Melt the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and cook until it begins to caramelise. Swirl the pan to ensure the caramelised sugar colours evenly, then whisk in the butter and salt. Remove from the heat and add the popcorn quickly and mix well with a spatula to coat evenly. Pour the sticky popcorn onto the lined baking sheet and spread out to a single layer to cool.

For the lemon ice cream, whip the cream in a large bowl to soft peaks then gently fold in the lemon zest and juice. Set aside. In a small saucepan, bring 100 g of the sugar and 50 ml of the water to a rapid boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 3 minutes. In a clean bowl, whisk the 2 egg whites until stiff. Gradually whisk the hot syrup into the beaten egg whites to form a glossy meringue. Continue whisking until cool then set aside. Make another batch of syrup with the remaining water (50 ml) and sugar (100 g). In another bowl, whisk the whole egg with the two egg yolks. Again, slowly beat the eggs into the syrup, whisking continuously until cool. Carefully fold the meringue into the whipped lemon cream then add the yolk syrup mixture. Spoon into a small loaf tin lined with baking paper. Place in the freezer for at least 3 hours until frozen solid.

To serve, crush some of the popcorn into caramel-ly crumbs. Remove the ice cream from the loaf tin and peel off the lining paper on one side and coat generously with these caramel crumbs. Flip the loaf over, peel off the other piece of baking paper and coat the other side with more caramel crumbs. Lay the crumbed ice cream on a suitable platter and slice into 2 cm slices. To serve, drag a good spoonful of lemon (or granadilla) curd across the plate or platter and place the lemon ice cream beside it. Scatter over the remaining whole coated popcorns.

Serves 8


Set a Table retails at R380 and is availible at