Retro makietie for the new year


Retro makietie for the new year

2023 was a rough year for most of us, which is why LIENTJIE WESSELS starts her food stories for the new year with vodka martinis and tasty old-fashioned snacks.


WOW, last year was rough, to say the least. I don't think it's necessary to elaborate — most people I know felt the blows.

For me, the year at least ended on a high note with two jobs that went well after many others failed, as well as a holiday in the Karoo with time for my people, reading, cooking and hanging out with a special drink under the apricot tree.

So, my food story for the end of 2023 and the start of 2024 begins with a vodka martini, a little old-fashioned but always a classic.

There are a few people on Facebook — some I know in the flesh and others only virtually — whom I would love to treat under a starry sky with martinis invented in 1911 for billionaire John D Rockefeller, and some retro snacks.

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Here’s my menu to go with the martinis:

  • Rainbow sandwiches
  • Mini wraps with chicken and coleslaw
  • Cucumber boats with tuna salad
  • Stuffed eggs
  • Pickled mussels with chilli and crackers

The people I want to invite are:

  • Jan Barend Wolmarans, because this man really can write. Every day he makes me think or quietly giggle and many times he makes me laugh out loud. I want him to tell New Year's stories about the past and what's yet to come.
  • Hannes Koegelenberg, because someone has to decorate the table while I cook and we always have such a good laugh.
  • Gavin Gregan Van Zyl, because he’ll bring wine I've never heard of — from young new winemakers — for after the martinis.
  • Christiaan Diedericks and Griet van der Meulen for stories about travelling and making art.
  • Anna Davel, because someone needs to sing something beautiful to start 2024 on an excellent note.
  • Everyone else I love — those who make me laugh and those who make me think — has to drop by later for a virtual dance party with a playlist compiled by Danie Marais.

Cheers to 2024 and may it be a much gentler year.

Rainbow sandwiches

The retro sandwich gets a makeover with a few additions.


  • Sliced white bread

Orange layer

  • 1 medium carrot, sliced, boiled and drained
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon good quality mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Salt and black pepper

Green layer

  • Handful of chopped, blanched spinach (water squeezed out)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon good quality mayonnaise
  • Salt and black pepper

Purple layer

  • 1 medium beetroot, soft boiled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon good quality mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper


1. For each layer, put the ingredients in a food processor and process to a smooth spread.

2. Cut the crusts off slices of white bread and add the layers. Cut each sandwich into either four or six squares.


Mini wraps with chicken and coleslaw

These are convenient and easy to make from bought, ready-made ingredients, or you can make your own coleslaw and mayonnaise and cook chicken in an air fryer and shred the meat. (I just bought chicken nuggets.)


  • 1 pack mini wraps
  • 24 chicken nuggets
  • Dry oregano
  • A little olive oil
  • ¼ head of cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Fresh herbs or the edible flowers of chives, for garnish


1. Lightly roast the wraps on a corrugated pan with a little olive oil. They still need to be flexible.

2. Drizzle the chicken nuggets with a little olive oil, add oregano and mix gently. Then bake in the oven according to the directions on the pack.

3. For the salad, mix the finely chopped cabbage with the mayonnaise, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.

4. Divide the salad and chicken between the wraps and make packets using a piece of pretty string. Garnish with herbs or edible flowers and serve.


Cucumber boats with tuna salad

These snacks are so easy to make and you’ll usually have everything you need in your pantry or fridge. They're high on my list of quick snacks and bloody delicious.


  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 small tin of tuna
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 5 cm carrot, diced into fine cubes
  • ½ small onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium-sized pickles (such as gherkins or onions), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes


1. Cut the cucumber into 1½ cm slices and slightly hollow out the centre with a teaspoon so you can fill it with the tuna mixture.

2. Mix the tuna, mayonnaise, chives, carrot, onion and pickles together and fill each cucumber slice with a spoonful of it.

3. Garnish with dill and chilli flakes.

Stuffed eggs

We all know these egg snacks. I add a little pickling liquid to the filling to make them extra tasty. Try them and tell me if you like them.


  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup good quality mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard
  • Pinch of onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon baby cucumber pickling liquid


1. Boil the eggs until just cooked. (I boil extra-large eggs for 8 minutes in boiling water, but this depends on what size eggs you use and whether you’re at the coast or inland.) Leave to cool for 7 minutes, shell the eggs, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the yolks.

2. Mix the yolks with the rest of the ingredients and beat until light. Spoon or pipe the mixture into the halved egg whites and garnish with chopped spring onions.

Pickled mussels with chilli and crackers

This is my favourite new chilli recipe. It's delicious on crackers and has enough kick to stand up to a martini.


  • 2 tins of smoked mussels, drained
  • 3-7g chilli flakes, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon mixed spices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Crackers of your choice


1. Gently toss the ingredients together in a bowl, cover and leave for about two hours or even overnight in the fridge.

2. Serve in a nice bowl with crackers to scoop it up.


Vodka martini

I’ve always preferred martini with vodka instead of gin — and it makes a big difference which vodka and vermouth you use. I use extra dry vermouth and Wyborowa, a Polish vodka. And in this martini, I used yam pickles.


  • 2 martini glasses
  • 9 ice cubes
  • Water
  • A little salt
  • 3 shots vodka
  • 1 shot vermouth
  • Pickles of your choice


1. Chill the glasses with a cube of ice, water and a little salt (salt makes the glass chill faster).

2. Combine the vodka, the rest of the ice and vermouth in a shaker and shake until the shaker is ice-cold.

3. Drain the cold water from the glasses and pour the martini into each glass. Serve with your choice of pickles. (I also like small pickled onions.)


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