Fashion and beauty editor

Fashion and beauty editor…freelance fashion stylist on all the major magazines for 23 years.

Moved  to the West Coast to live on a Dune in 2004…and slowly the high heels and designer outfits were replaced with Havianna’s (slip slops)…or as we call them in Afrikaans “visplakkies’  and sand on my toes. My interest in food started in 2010 when I launched a small food market in Vredenburg. This led to the opening of an amazing food market in 2012 in the beautiful Palms Centre in  the heart of  Woodstock….Market at the Palms. I managed this for 6 and a half years. It was also in 2012 that I started opening my home for Sunday lunches and my Langtafel of die Duin has become quite an institution…fabulous five course meals in an eclectic home environment  on the edge of the beach!


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Isabella Niehous

Not a chef…just  a home cook with a good palate and amazing passion for combining tastes. Creating good food. Using the best possible fresh produce. And with an enormous love for fresh seafood!

In 2019 I launched my first cookbook,Duinhuis. It was awarded a first in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for 2020. During lockdown I did a small digital e-book on mussels…one of my most favourite ingredients: Isabella’s Mussel Feast.

There is hopefully a new cookbook in the pipeline !

I live on my Dune with four dogs and three cats…a small plantation of prickly pears bearing the most beautiful fruit and six huge olive trees….and a beautiful son, just around the corner!

Pickled Mussels

My favourite food? A bowl of mussels. Steamed to perfection with onion, garlic, thyme and a dash of white wine. Nothing fancy added and of course a vetkoek or slice of delicious ciabatta to mop up the delicious sauce!

I am so fortunate that the mussel farms are just across the bay from me and I have access to fresh cultivated mussels, harvested daily, early in the morning. At the end of last year I did a small digital cookbook with 15 of my favourite and delicious mussel recipes: Isabella’s Mussel Feast.

#capellilavita #savourlavita #savourwithbella


I share this recipe for Pickled Mussels from the book. It is great that you don’t need fresh mussels to make this. Top quality frozen mussel meat is readily available…just make sure to defrost in the fridge!
These little delicacies are perfect as nibbles!

You need:


  • 2 kg black mussel, scrubbed. Or 1 kg of frozen mussel meat.
  • 4 long red chillies, sliced widthways
  • 250 ml extra-virgin olive oil (1 cup)
  • 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 250 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon

Isabella Niehaus


  • Heat a large saucepan over high heat, add mussels, cover and cook, shaking pan occasionally until mussels just open (2-3 minutes). Drain, remove from shells and de-beard. Set aside at room temperature in a heatproof container just large enough to fit all the mussels in one layer.

When using frozen mussel meat. Defrost in the fridge or in a cool area. Heat a pan and over medium heat add the mussels in their water for a minute or two. Drain and set aside.

Bring a saucepan to very high heat, add chilli and dry-fry, stirring occasionally until blackened and blistered in places (1-2 minutes). Carefully add 2 tbsp oil, then garlic and peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon and bay leaves. Fry, stirring constantly until garlic is just starting to colour (30 seconds to 1 minute). Add vinegar, salt, sugar and remaining oil to pan as well as about a cup of the mussel juice and bring to the boil over low heat. Then pour directly over the mussels. Set aside to cool to room temperature and pickle (1 hour). 

Serve mussels with aïoli and rye sourdough toast or potato chips.

* Store in a glass container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

I think that an icy cold FILIA or even Circa from Huis van Chevallerie



Pork Terrine

It is essential that the meat
has a nice layer of fat.
You don’t have to eat the
fat, but it really adds to the
taste and the texture.

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You need:

• 300 g pork fillet
trimmed most of the fat
and diced roughly.
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 4 sprigs fresh time
• 30 ml brandy
(good brandy)
• 250 g rindless streaky
• 1 kg pork sausage meat,
loosen with a fork
or pork mince
• small bunch parsley,
• small bunch chives,
• 100 g shelled pistachios,
slightly roasted in a
dry pan
• salt and pepper to taste
• 8 to 10 plump dried

Isabella Niehaus


1 Place the diced pork fillet, garlic, 2 sprigs of the thyme
and the brandy in a bowl, cover and leave to marinate in
the fridge overnight.
2 Heat the oven to 180 °C. Grease a 1 kg terrine mould or
loaf tin with butter. Put the remaining sprigs of thyme on
the bottom and line it with overlapping stripes of bacon –
the bacon must hang over the edges.
3 Add the sausage meat to the bowl with the marinated
pork and mix well. Stir through the parsley, chives and
pistachios and season well.
4 Pack the terrine mould with half the pork mixture
and lay the apricots in a row down the centre. Pack with
the remaining pork. Flatten and stretch over the strips
of bacon. Cover with buttered foil, then cover the whole
terrine with at least two layers of cling wrap.
5 Put the terrine in a roasting tin half filled with boiling
water and bake for 1 hour.
6 Cool and chill overnight in the fridge. You can press the
terrine in the fridge by placing a board with a couple of
tins or any heavy object on top. It gives it a flatter surface
and firmer texture.
7 Dip the terrine briefly in hot water to loosen it, then turn
it out onto a plate. Serve with pickled cucumbers!

Wine pairing: Paul Cluver’s Estate Chardonnay
or Malanot’s Malbec.


A Simple Leek Pie...
Flamiche Aux Poireaux

It is exactly ten years ago that I hopped onto a fast train at Gare d’ Austerlitz in Paris for a four hour journey to Montlucon…a ride to Boussac and one of the most memorable lunches ever at the beautiful chateau of Louis Jansen van Vuuren and Hardy Olivier: La Creuzette.

It is just like a fairytale. From the heavy iron gates that slowly open and then as you move through the trees the first sight of the chateau. The aristocratic dogs. The handsome owners.

Lunch was served in the summer kitchen. A table set with the finest linen , cutlery and glass. The meal: a leek tart from their book FESTIVE FRANCE and small green salad. To drink a cold cold Rosé. Dessert: Charlotte de La Creuzette berries and red fruit.

For me it has become a custom to start baking leek tarts at the first real signs of winter. And today…wet and cold and with a another lockdown imposed on us, the sweet smell and taste of Flamiche Aux Poireaux is the perfect treat!

By the way…this easy pastry recipe is one to hold onto! I use it for almost everything I bake.

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You need:

500 gr leeks

50 gr butter

salt and white pepper

a pinch of nutmeg

250 ml of cultured cream or crème fraîche

2 tbs of water.

1 egg

Three or four dried apricots

For the pastry:

375 ml ( 11/2 cups) of flour

125 gr butter, grated

1 egg

2 tbs of cold water

2,5 mlSalt

OR you can use store bought puff pastry

Isabella Niehaus

For the pastry.
Add the salt to the flour .Rub the butter into the flour. Don’t overwork. Now add the egg and water. Mix just until the dough comes together. Wrap in cling film .Let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

For the filling:
Chop the leeks into rings. Heat the butter and water in a pot, add leeks and simmer over medium heat with a lid on till soft. Once soft add the cultured cream and increase the heat. Cook until most of the moisture has evaporated. Now add the finely sliced apricots, salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Let it cool.

Prepare the pastry by dividing into two equal balls. Roll out into circles. Place a circle into your pie dish. Add the leeks and spread out. Now roll out the other ball of pastry and cover the leeks….folding the edges of the pastry together. Poke a few small holes in the pastry and brush with egg wash.

Bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees for a further 20  minutes till the pastry is golden brown.

Serve with a simple green salad and a perfectly chilled De Grendel Rosé


Red Pepper Sauce

Last year this time during our first lockdown I developed this obsessive love for the beautiful fleshy red pepper.A roasted red pepper. Roasted just enough to caramelize the flesh.

This sauce is enough for 2 x 500 ml bottles. A tangy, spicy, crunchy beautiful sauce that you can use on fish, chicken, red meat…veggies…pasta! And it keeps in the fridge!

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Start by roasting the following. You can keep is all in big chunks.

1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch of fresh garlic
1/2 cup of fresh celery
1/4 cup of capers
3 red peppers (you can substitute one of the peppers with a pimento if you want to)
1 or two chillies (depending on how hot you want it)
1 /2 teaspoon of green peppercorns (in brine)
1/2 teaspoon white or black peppercorns
1 tbs fresh oregano (1 teaspoon of dried)
1 tbs fresh thyme (1 teaspoon of dried)

Olive oil to drizzle.

Heat you oven to 180 degrees. As mentioned no need to chop ingredients finely…leave in chunks. Just remove the white membrane and seeds of red pepers. Drizzle with enough olive oil.

Roast for 15 to 20 minutes. Your veggies should still be firm….just done and slightly caramelized.

In the mean time dry roast a cup of cashew nuts with a good pinch of salt.

Isabella Niehaus


Let the vegetables and nuts cool slightly. Transfer all ingredients to your food processor. Use the pulse setting and pulse till almost smooth. Now add 2 tablespoons of tamari or regular soya sauce and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Pulse again. The texture will be slightly crunchy…that is how I like it. But you can pulse till it is completely smooth. Just before bottling I add 1/2 cup of water just to give it a more runny consistence. Pulse, bottle and enjoy!

This recipe is forgiving. Use what you have in your fridge. You can substitute the herbs with what you have available or your own preference…you can replace the red peppers with yellow peppers.

You can easily make only half of this recipe to try it first!


Broccoli and leek soup

The queen of quick, delicious soups. That is what I would like to call myself! The last of easy, fresh vegetable soups.

So often at my Langtafel a guest will be allergic to shellfish. Sometimes they just don’t enjoy seafood and at the last minute I always remember…darn there is a non fish eater. A quick, fresh soup is always the answer. If you have any fresh cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, butternut or pumpkin in your fridge the day is saved! Feel free to add a potato of sweet potato. If you don’t have leeks..add celery…or just onion and garlic. The proof is definitely in the pudding…taste and taste again and add a spice..a bit more salt and white pepper…perhaps black pepper if you wish. You might want to add a dash of soya…a squirt of lemon juice. A tablespoon or two of freshly squeezed orange juice.

The coconut milk or cream, which ever you prefer, just takes it to another level…hot or cold!

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Broccoli and leek soup!

1 whole broccoli

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp  butter

2 medium leeks

2 or 3 salad onions…or a white onion

1 clove garlic

360 ml chicken or vegetable stock


Pinch of white pepper

Pinch of ground cumin

pinch of ground nutmeg

A tin of coconut milk/cream

Yvette Jordaan Photography


Separate broccoli stems from florets. Using a vegetable peeler, peel stems to remove tough outer layer, then slice into rings.” Cut the florets into small pieces.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add leeks  and onions and cook, stirring often, until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add broccoli stems and garlic, and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add 3 the stock, salt, pepper and spices and bring to a boil. . Reduce heat and cover partially and simmer until broccoli is tender.

Add florets. Bring to a boil and then simmer 5 minutes. Transfer soup in batches to a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Return soup to saucepan and add the coconut milk /cream and reheat briefly. This soup is also fabulous as a cold soup!

        Garnish with your favourite fresh herbs!

             PS: if served cold….try fresh mint leaves as a garnish!

Water: PERLAGE  from OriginFloe

Mussel and Saffron Soup

In Afrikaans there is a saying ‘jy kan my in ‘n wip vang’ translated directly: you could catch me in a trap ! And that is exactly my relationship with mussels. You could so easily trap me with any fresh mussel dish!

Earlier this year I put together a beautiful little e-book with 15 lovely and easy recipes with fresh mussels. And I’m sharing one of my favourites here with you.

I’m fortunate to have access to fresh mussels on a daily basis with Blue Ocean Mussels just around the corner in Saldanha.

I’ve created beautiful recipes with these fresh mussels: a mussel bobotie which is probably one of the best remembered dishes I make . Pickled mussels. A few different soups….and a mussel fritter!

If you struggle to find fresh mussels,why don’t you call Blue Ocean Mussels for stockist. There are daily deliveries to Cape Town and fresh mussels are also flown to Johannesburg every day! You can contact and order from Blue Ocean Directly….

Mussel farming in South Africa is sustainable. The mussels are rope-grow. They are high in protein, excellent source of omega preservatives..and absolutely delicious!

#capellilavita #savourlavita #savourwithbella


Here is the soup recipe from my e-book, Isabella’s Mussel Feast . Enjoy!

Mussel and Saffron Soup

2 kg of mussels, de-bearded
1 onion,  chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
5 sprigs of fresh thyme…or parsley
1 cup of white wine
500 ml of cream
2 generous pinches of saffron threads, ground with a pestle and mortar
1 tsp of ground turmeric
Good pinch of red chilli flakes…or a fresh chilli finely chopped
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp of oil


Hein van Tonder


Preheat a large pot over medium to high heat. Add the oil and butter and sauté the onion, garlic and thyme. Now add the mussels. Close the lid and steam for 8 to 10 minutes until all the mussels have opened. Now add the white wine and steam for 3 more minutes. Remove the mussels from the pot and strain the liquid.

Add the chilli/chilli flakes, cream. saffron and turmeric to the strained liquid and reduce slightly over medium heat.

Remove some of the mussel meat from the shells and add to the liquid. Stir in the chopped parsley and the lemon juice and dish into soup bowls with the remaining mussels in their shells.

Note: you can replace saffron with turmeric if need be. Turmeric is widely regarded as the best replacement for saffron . It belongs to the ginger family. Its flavour can be described as earthy and bitter and is often used in curries. While saffron has a floral and sweet flavour, turmeric is much more bold and peppery

Best served with;
Wine: A glass of Springhaas..Huis van Chevallerie
Water: Primal Artesian Water from OriginFloe

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Puttanesca sauce originated in Naples. Many of the accounts on the origin of the name all hinge on the fact that Puttanesca sauce is easy and quick to make. It is the seductive combination of tomatoes, capers, olives, garlic, chilli and anchovies.

This is my recipe replacing the anchovies with a tin of sardines…and a mixture of fresh and tinned tomatoes.

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You need:

3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 fresh ripe tomatoes cut into small blocks
1 chilli, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup of capers, drained
1 tin of sardines in oil
1/2 cup of black olives, pitted
Handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Freshly ground pepper and salt
*Salt for the pasta

Isabella Niehaus

Start boiling water for the spaghetti. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan large enough to hold the cooked pasta later. Add the garlic, sardines, and chopped chilli. (I use the oil of the sardines as well)

• Cook over a medium heat .With a wooden spoon or fork break the sardines into small flakes. Cook for a few minutes until the garlic is a light golden colour….make sure not to burn the garlic!

• Add capers, a bit of parsley and the olives and stir to combine.
• Now add the fresh and chopped tomatoes, stir and let it simmer .

• Cook pasta to just under al dente (about 1 minute less than the package recommends).
• Drain pasta reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
• Add drained pasta to the sauce.

• Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and increase the heat to bring the pasta and sauce to a vigorous simmer.

• Cook, stirring and shaking the pan and adding more pasta water if necessary until pasta is perfectly al dente.

• Sprinkle with some more parsley.
• Season with salt and pepper as required.
• Serve immediately.

Best served with;
A slightly chilled Darling Cellars Black Granite Shiraz