Karen Dudley has lived an interesting life which has provided her with a treasure trove of memories. It’s these memories – of food, places and people – that informs her

latest book, Onwards.

The headings of the various chapters are a great indicator of the tone of this recipe book: first up is Recipes to Help with Letting Go, followed by Salads I Would Have Made at The Kitchen. Then along comes The Solace of Vegetables, Curiosity and Hunger and I Make Lunch for My Sweetheart Now.

The Kitchen, her restaurant on Main Road, Woodstock, was small but dynamic. It was also one of the casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. Copious tears were shed – by Dudley, her beloved cooks and staff but especially by the patrons who loved the heartwarming, comforting real food served under her roof.

Former American First Lady Michelle Obama took her daughters, Sasha and Malia, and her mom, Marian Robinson, to eat at The Kitchen in Cape Town’s gritty Woodstock area when on an official visit in 2011. It remains a life highlight for Karen Dudley who has also worked in a historic Washington DC mansion, a galley kitchen in London’s Chelsea and a posh house in Constantia.

As the promotional blurb states, “Karen has found that connection does not necessarily reside only in bricks and mortar. She has found that she can carry that deliciousness onwards. This book is about how she has done just that.

“In Onwards, Karen Dudley weaves a compelling narrative of how her life changed after the Covid-19 pandemic forced her to close, The Kitchen. From these bleak circumstances arose something beautiful, offering the time and space for inspiration to take root, to rediscover her connection with food, and to shift her perception of what it means to cook, for oneself and for others. Onwards is a book about the way forward, filled with wholesome, nourishing and indulgent recipes, with a story of hope and happiness threaded throughout.”

This is Dudley’s fourth recipe book, and follows A Week in the Kitchen, Another Week in the Kitchen, and her third, Set a Table. Her profile has also been boosted by her recent stint hosting the five-part television series sponsored by Nederburg Wines, I’ll bring the Wine, which saw her travelling the country to cook and eat with a diverse range of chefs, among them Jackie Cameron, Pashi Reddy and Tapiwe Guzhe.


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Broccoli Tonnato with Fried Capers, Rocket & Sunflower Seeds 


1 cup sunflower oil

50 g capers

2 heads (± 650 g) broccoli, or 800 g long-stemmed broccoli

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon

Salt and black pepper, to taste

150 g edamame beans or peas (optional)

100 g asparagus (optional)

1–1¼ cups Tonnato sauce (Click here to see recipe)

Maldon salt, to taste

30 g sunflower seeds, toasted

40 g rocket

Tonnato Sauce

1 can tuna, drained

¼ tsp salt

½ cup homemade mayonnaise or

Hellmann’s Classic Mayonnaise

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1–2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon, grated (optional)

Blend the tuna and salt in a food processor. Add the mayonnaise and pulse until creamy. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil and lemon juice, and blend until the tonnato is exceptionally smooth and creamy.

Adjust for more salt, olive oil or lemon juice and store in

an airtight container.

Makes just more than 1 cup


Bhel Puri Potato Salad


4 medium potatoes

¾ cup full-cream yoghurt

5 Tbsp dhanya chutney or similar (I like the Quality Pickles one)

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

Fine salt and black pepper, to taste

1 cup diced (1 cm pieces) cooked beetroot

1 cucumber, diced into 1 cm pieces

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped (optional)

1½ red onions, diced into ½ cm pieces

1 cup cubed (1 cm pieces) roasted sweet potato (optional)

80 g dried dates, sliced or chopped

100 g slangetjies (or sev. I like the packets with puffed rice and cornflakes, fennel seeds and other bits. You can buy sev from Indian supermarkets and many corner shops)

100 g plain roasted peanuts (optional but lekker)

Leaves from a bunch of coriander (± 50 g)


Chilli Crisp SALAD

with Celery, Fine Beans, Asparagus,

Long-Stemmed Broccoli & Crispy Tofu

120 g green beans, topped but not tailed (optional)

150 g each asparagus and long-stemmed broccoli, tails trimmed

6 celery stalks, trimmed and thinly sliced on a steep diagonal in long, thin half-moons

1 fennel bulb, very finely sliced

200 g tofu, cut into batons or blocks, tossed in rice flour and shallow-fried in sunflower oil

2 Tbsp Gochujang dressing (Click here to see the recipe)

Juice of ½ lime

Flaked sea salt, to taste

180 g (about ¾ cup) Walnut Chilli Crisp (Click here to see recipe)

¼ cup toasted walnuts, or ½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)

7 lively looking celery leaves

Walnut Chilli ‘Crisp’

8 onions, thinly sliced

4 heads of garlic, peeled, separated into

cloves and sliced

4 cups vegetable oil

4 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise, broken into pods

½ cup walnuts

2 x 5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and

very finely chopped

6 Tbsp dried chilli flakes

1½ fresh red chillies, finely sliced

½ cup soya sauce

¼ cup castor sugar

1 tsp salt

Bring the onions, garlic, vegetable oil, cinnamon sticks and star anise to a simmer in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 1 hour, reducing the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until the garlic and onions are browned.

In the meantime, toast the walnuts at 180°C for 8 minutes. Once toasted, chop the walnuts.

Mix the ginger, chilli flakes, fresh chilli, soya sauce, castor sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Strain the onion mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over the ginger-chilli mixture and stir with the hot oil to combine. Let the garlic and onion cool in the sieve before stirring them into the oil. Stir in the toasted walnuts.

To use, stir the mixture before spooning over a dish.

This recipe lasts for weeks in the fridge, especially if you hot-seal the jars.

Makes 3 x 200 g jars


Gochujang Dressing

5 Tbsp gochujang paste (Korean chilli paste)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2½ Tbsp white sugar

½ green apple, peeled

5 Tbsp rice vinegar

5 Tbsp soya sauce

3 Tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

2½ Tbsp sesame oil

Fine salt, to taste

5 tsp sesame seeds

Place the gochujang paste, garlic, sugar, apple, rice vinegar, soya sauce and oils in the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend to combine.

Adjust for seasoning, adding more salt, soya sauce, or sweetness as needed. Stir in the sesame seeds.

Makes 1¾ cup