Dinner Divas: My Semi-Finals Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Menu and Recipes.

So what is a day like on the set of Dinner Divas? It’s looong and quite exhausting but at the end of it your adrenlin levels are just so high that you feel like you have consumed a hundred cups of coffee. My mind was a bee-hive of buzzing and I was constantly running through my menu and the order in which I had to cook everything on my Bridal Rehearsal Dinner Menu. After a 6am poly-filler session with the make-up girls, who were just so friendly and incredibly adept at making up an ‘older’ woman, we would make our way to the set which was just accross the road from The Upper East Side Hotel in Woodstock.

The location of the Dinner Diva set!

Peter Goff-Wood’s spot called Kitchen Cowboys was already a hive of activity at 7am and by the time that Nina, Kristy and I arrived the floor looked like a huge bowl of spaghetti had been tipped over! Endless kilometers of electrical cords ensnared anything in its path.


At 8am breakfast was served, but I rarely had anything to eat, preferring to cook hungry! Being that it was mid winter and freezing cold and I needed to warm up I did manage a cup of Chai tea. At 09.00am we had just 30minutes to locate our ingredients, serving dishes, plates etc and gather up every pot, pan, cutting board, knife, sieve etc. that we would be using in the preparation of meals. Once filming had begun, we were not allowed to leave our stations to get anything that we may have forgotten. There would be a quick briefing by Anne Meyers, the executive producer of 2Blondes and a Redhead and we were off.

The Brief

The brief for this elimination round was to prepare a FESTIVE or SPECIAL OCCASION meal for 4-8 people. It could be a dinner, breakfast, lunch or cocktail party … absolutel any occasion, in 3 hours.

Judging Criteria

We were encouraged to keep in mind that this episode would be shown in summer and therefor were to keep this in mind. The meal should be our “blog on a plate”, be for a family or our interpreatation of a family, show good taste, balance and nutrition, be seasonal, local produce, be well styled on the plate, based on a normal family budget. We were asked to write a short post of 100 words describing the meal to the judges in our usual blog voice. We had to write our recipes up for the judges scrutinise.

The Decision

My participation in Dinner Divas happened to coincide with my incredibly special and vry favourite nephew Claudio’s marriage to Jennifer, which was my motivation for the meal that I prepared. A Tripepi wedding is such a joyous celebration of marriage and is accompanied by so many dinners and lunches drenched in hapiness for the various preparations for the joining of two families. In this case, Jennifer and her family who are of French Mauritian decent fitted together with the Tripepi Clan like peas and carrots. They are a wonderful family with just so much in common with us that from the moment that these two special people met, we have all been partying and celebrating together. They love food and family just as much as we do ….. a perfect union in just so many ways.

I had to make a difficult decision, for partaking in Dinner Divas meant that I may just miss their wedding. To make matters even more difficult, my son Daniele had been offered a job on set too. After much deliberation and many considerations both Daniele and I agreed that the Universe was offering us a synergistic opportunity. Daniele reminded me of the mantra that I had so often drummed into his head that, “It’s not the things that we DO in life that we regret, it’s the things that we DON’T DO” and to never ever refuse opportunity for it will stop knocking at your door! How our parental efforts at instilling wisdom do sometimes whip around and slap us in the face! Daniele was tasked with the position of “Judge Liaison” and with the blessings of the other Divas, we both accepted this incredible rare opportunity to have an adventure together.

Claudion & Jenn xxx So very special xxx

My 100 words describing this meal.

A Tripepi Wedding Rehearsal Celebration.

Nothing gets la famiglia Tripepi more excited than a Tripepi wedding. The hint of one starts a tsunami of wedding related celebrations. New suits are the order of the day as uncles and cousins have either grown in height but mostly in girth and the ladies rush around ordering wedding regalia. Bridesmaids and flower girls all in a row are paired with best friends and cousins and the mere mention of a pre-wedding gathering requires food and lots of it.

Aunties’ line up offering up their specialities for bridal showers and bachelor weekends and all this is wrapped up in massive bows of laughter. The wedding rehearsal dinner is the last dinner before the big event and must be special as it serves to unite two families as one with the promise of a beautiful future and hopefully a few more Tripepi bambini. This summer wedding, set on the sun kissed shores of KwaZulu Natal is a seafood celebration. My wedding rehearsal dinner menu is light yet celebratory and will take these two families by the s and join them together on a seafood adventure.

Benvenuti nella famiglia Tripepi.

Of course I wasn’t able to photograph my recipes on set so you are not getting the usual step-by-step pictures that I would normally post. I did, however feature three recipes that I had posted on my blog in the past. This was my ‘old school’ way of doing exactly as I was told and truly representing ‘my blog’ on a plate. I was raised at a time when we were taught to follow instructions to the letter and this is ONE of the lessons that I learnt in this competition.

Think outside the box Janice!

Just ONE of the valuable lessons that I learnt in this competition!

My Menu

Insalata di Frutti di Mare

(prawn and calamari cold seafood salad)

Calamari Ripieni

(Prawn and Mushroom Stuffed Squid in a tomato sauce served warm)

Dorado in Padella con Fettuccine fresce al sugo di Finocchi e Porri

(Pan Fried Dorado on a bed of fresh fettuccine with a Leek & Fennel Sauce)

Fragole al Cinzano con Zabaglione e Amaretti

Strawberries in Cinzano topped with Zabaglione, served with Amaretti.

This menu is certainly festive and in keeping with the celebration. I chose a seafood feast to reflect the bounty of our coastline. These are the pictures of the actual food that I cooked during the competition, so you can see exactly what the judges saw and tasted.

Insalata di Frutti di Mare

Seafood Salad

Serves 6 – 8 people

I had planned to serve a smaller portion than this in a cup and saucer but there wasn’t any on set.

Insalata di Frutti di Mare



1kg prawns peeled and deveined

500g cleaned and chopped calamari

5 celery sticks – sliced finely

1 red onion chopped finely

5 cloves of garlic crushed


Cracked black Pepper

2tsp sugar

2 bunch of parsley finely chopped

1 cup of olive oil

The juice of 6 lemons

1 ciabatta loaf

100g of butter



Place the prawns into a pot and cover with cold water and 1tsp of salt. Do the same with the calamari. Bring each pot to the boil on the stove top. The moment that the water comes to the boil, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove. Leave both pots uncovered to cool down slowly; this will result in tender prawns and calamari for your salad.

In the meantime you can make your dressing. Finely slice the celery and finely chop the red

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onion and parsley. Place into a bowl with the crushed garlic, lemon juice, 2tsp salt, 2 – 3tsp cracked black pepper and sugar. Give the dressing a good stir and while your seafood is cooling down cover and place in the refrigerator. Taste the dressing and season according to your taste, the success of any dish is about tasting and adjusting the flavour to please your pallet.



Calamari Ripieni

Serves 6

I served just one squid per portion as there was plenty more to come.

Prawn & Mushroom Stuffed Squid in a Red Wine & Tomato Sauce

This is one of those dishes that actually improves with age. Make it the day before your function or meal, not only will the flavours have improved but you will have extra time to prepare the other components of your meal and be a cool, calm and collected Zen Hostess!



6 large squid, cleaned and patted dry

6 tooth picks – wooden and unflavoured

Olive Oil for frying

2 onions finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic finely chopped

2 glasses wine

2 tins of Rhodes chopped, peeled tomatoes which are Delightful

2tsp Rhodes tomato paste

1 chicken stock cube

Freshly cracked black pepper

1 bunch of parsley for garnishing

3 lemons to cut up for serving


For the Stuffing

5 slices of stale bread

1 onion finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic finely chopped

250g mushrooms – finely chopped

1/2 glass dry white wine

1 chicken stock cube

Cracked black pepper

350g prawn meat

1 lightly beaten Nulaid egg …. Why? Because a fresh egg is Nulaid

1 handful of parsley finely chopped



Cut the crusts off the stale bread and pulse in a food processor

Gently fry the garlic and onion with the chicken cube salt and pepper. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until they are starting to brown. Deglaze the pan with ½ glass dry white wine. Remove from the stove, allow to them cool for a few minutes so you don’t burn your hands when you mix the stuffing, add them to the bread crumbs. Roughly chop the prawn meat and add to the stuffing mixture with a good handful of chopped parsley, the lightly beaten fresh Nulaid egg and using your hands mix the stuffing well. Season your stuffing well and the only way to test for seasoning is to try a little. Good stuffing is well seasoned!

Spoon the stuffing into a piping bag, or a plastic bag with the corner cut off and stuff each squid 2/3 full. Close the end with a toothpick. Don’t over fill each squid as the stuffing absorbs all the juices that the squid releases and swells up, and the squid shrink a little.

In a large pot or frying pan, gently brown the stuffed squid on both sides in a little olive oil then set aside on a plate. Turn the heat up and brown your onion, garlic, chicken stock cube and black pepper. Add the red wine to the pot and cook off all of the alcohol. Add the conveniently peeled and chopped Rhodes tinned tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring the sauce to a boil, add the stuffed squid and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for 2 hours. Simmer with the lid off so that

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the sauce reduces down nicely and thickens.

To serve

Gently remove the tooth picks and cut each squid 2/3 of the way through on an angle. Spoon some of the rich tomato sauce over each squid making sure to get it in between each slice. Serve with slices of freshly cut lemon and a flourish of parsley.

Top Tip – you will have a little extra sauce left over after serving. Bag it and freeze it for another meal – this sauce is delicious over some pasta! Two meals for the price of one!

Dorado in Padella con Fettuccine fresce al sugo di Finocchi e Porri

Panfried Dorado on a bed of fresh fettucine with a Leek and Fennel White wine sauce

Seves 6

This recipe is divided into three parts, the fresh Fettuccine, The Leek and Fennel Sauce and The Pan Fried Dorado


Fresh Fettuccine

Serves 6



400g Sasko flour to Share the Goodness

4 Nulaid Eggs

4tsp salt

4tsp olive oil

1/2cup ice cold water

1 cup of extra flour for rolling the pasta



Place the flour, eggs, sat and olive oil into your mixer fitted with the dough hook. Start the mixer on the lowest speed for 30 seconds to start mixing the dough. Gradually increase the speed up to number 2. When your time is limited, a good quality mixer is your best friend as it will get your dough into ball quick sticks. Once the dough has come together, turn it out onto a floured surface to knead it. Depending on the humidity you may need to flick on a few drops of ice cold water to help bring the dough together. Kneading dough is such a fun exercise and one that my children always enjoyed when they were younger. Knead the dough until the surface is smooth and shiny. This will only take about 4 minutes so relax and enjoy it.

It’s always best to cover the dough in cling film or a plastic packet and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to allow it to relax. If you don’t have time, not a big issue, you will need to put it through the first setting on your pasta machine one extra time to encourage elasticity.

To Roll and Cut Fettuccine

Firmly fix your pasta machine to your work surface. Cut a palm sized piece of dough, flatten it down and put through the machine on number one. Do this three times, each time folding the dough twice like a letter before putting it into an envelope. Now turn the pasta machine up one notch at a time until you reach number 7. This is the required thickness for fettuccine. After rolling each piece of dough flat, lay it onto a table cloth until you have finished all of the dough. Roll each sheet of dough through the machine on the fettuccine roller and set aside to cook.

Sugo di Finocchi e Porri

Fennel and Leek Pasta Sauce

Serves 6



100g butter

100g diced pancetta

4 cloves of garlic finely chopped

2 red chillies finely chopped

6 fennel bulbs finely sliced

1 300g packet of leeks finely sliced

1 glass dry white wine

1 glass water

500ml fresh cream

Salt and Pepper

Fennel tops for garnish


In a large pot lightly brown the pancetta, chilli and garlic add the sliced fennel and leeks with the wine, put a lid on the pot to allow the vegetables to soften and the alcohol to cook out of the wine. Once the veggies are nice and soft add the fresh cream, salt and pepper and allow to cook until the cream has thickened slightly.

Serve over the fettuccine and topped with pan fried dorado.

Dorado in Padella


Pan-fried Dorado

Serves 6



6 Fillets of Dorado

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Cayenne pepper



Heat your griddle pan to a high temperature. Oil the Dorado fillets on both sides and season well with salt, pepper and cayenne.

Cook in the griddle pan on both sides and serve on top of your Fettuccine al sugo di finoccihio e porri. Be careful not to overcook your fish as this will dry the fish out and it’s always best to rest pan fried fish for a few minutes before serving as this allows the meat to relax and for the juices to flow. Serve with lemon wedges and a garnish of fennel tops.

Fragole al Cinzano con Zabaglione


Serves 6


5 Nulaid egg yolks

5Tbs white sugar

1/3 glass of Marsala Wine



This dessert is reliant upon fresh and tasty eggs, which is exactly why I used Nulaid eggs. Separate your eggs but do keep the whites for a nice batch of meringues or an egg white omelette another day.

Place the egg yolks into a double boiler with some boiling water in it; add the sugar and using a hand mixer beat for 3 minutes until they are nicely mixed. Place the double boiler on your stove top on a medium heat and whilst continuously beating slowly add the Marsala little by little; I usually add about a dessert spoonful at a time. Once all of the Marsala has been added keep beating until the mixture is creamy and light and fluffy.


Fragole al Cinzano

Serves 6

Strawberries in Cinzano with Zabaglione and Amaretti


800g fresh strawberries

3Tbs castor sugar

½ glass white Cinzano

6 Amaretti biscuits



Quarter the strawberries and sprinkle over the castor sugar and Cinzano. Allow this mixture to sit for a while to let the sugar dissolve and the strawberries to soak up the beautiful flavours of the Cinzano.


Serve the strawberries in a nice elegant glass or bowl topped with a generous helping of Zabaglione and garnish with the crushed Amaretti biscuits.

And they lived happily ever after ……

And there you have it ….. my semi-final meal. Unfortunately, we didn’t ever get any direct feedback from the Judges so I can’t really tell you where I did well or where I failed in this meal. We shall have to wait for tomorrow’s screening to find out!

See you there!

SABC2 at 08.30am in the Dinner Divas Kitchen!

As always

Buon Appetito


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Scorpio, RED WINE, Dalmatians, VINO, my men, Mamma Estraordinaria, massive pots of pasta, la famiglia, candle light, designer Handbags, Adult Survivor, Red Lipstick, writing, drumming, painting, red RED and Pasta .... lots of it!