Sunday, December 20, 2009

These are the wonderful folk (Mary Mick and Doggy Lily ) who some of us are going to meet when we do the cookery course in France in September. They sent me these pictures of their wonderful place in the snow. There is at least one place still (maybe 2) to be filled for the trip. It will be at the end of September 2010.
All of you have a fantastic Christmas. For the cookery ladies, i will not resume classes until March or later. But if my kitchen hasn't started i may do a couple in January.
Love Jenny

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The 3 Christmas cookery classes were a great success, except for the topside which I used for the first class. That was too tough! So by the second class we had learnt that topside needs long slow cooking (braising or stewing) and that sirloin or ribeye are the best cuts for roasting, not to mention the obvious, fillet.
The Christmas party at Nicky Booth was a roaring success. Hopefully Conchessa will let me have the pictures so I can put them on the blog. The weather was not too hot thankfully. We all started off with a class of bubbly and wandered around the delightful garden and sat on her porch. After a chat the nibbles came out. Deep fried mozzarella balls with a sweet chilli dip. Delicious. We then went and sat at her beautifully set (white cloth and starched white napkins) table and ate a delicious 3 course meal.
The starter was double cooked blue cheese souffle with delicious just out of the oven walnut bread. I think this was my favourite. The mains were a selection of salads (Chickpea and butternut not my favourite), fennel dauphinois and an aubergine and tomato and creme fraiche bake. There was also a potato and green bean salad which went down well. The desserts were great. Chocolate tart (rich with a great crust) meringue roulade with a caramel drizzle, hot apricots, home made icecream etc. The coffee was not good ! Pity. There were chocolates to end (but I was too full) Some ended with a glass of Limoncello liquer.
All in all a memorable day. There were 17 of us and those of you who didn't join us you missed a real treat!!. We will go to her again next year for sure.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hi Cookery gals. Here are some pictures of the Xmas cookery class taken by a wonderful new lady< Susanne from Stellenbosch. Hope you enjoy them


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hi Ladies from the cookery classes. I just want to let you know, that if you have to take the Yorkshire puddings out of the oven before you need them, place them back in just before you serve them for 5 minutes. They will be crisped up and glorious

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This is for the ladies who attended the cookery class on Wednesday the 11th. I went to Woolies and chatted to a fantastic butcher (who has been one for 40 years). He confirmed that Topside is wrong for that way of roasting and that a sirloin roast or a rib eye (this to me looks the best) would be great because it has less connective tissue (which makes meat tough if it is cooked too fast and at too high a temperature)and more fat marbled through the meat (which keeps it tender and moist. SO SORRY that we had to confirm this in your lesson. I do recall I had made the same mistake many years ago, and should not have listened to Jamie's recipe. Meat overseas is in any case different to here both in cut and texture.

Also White chocolate is available in Woolworths. It is their own Organic white, this will be fine and half the price of the Van Gesau at Melissas.

Happy cooking

From top to bottom, my room in our appartment in Pais in the Marais area . The second picture is a souffle i ate at Joel Rubouchon's one michelin star restaurant in Paris. The third is one of the most amazing food markets somewhere in Paris. The last picture is the outside door of our appartment. Just a little taste of my amazing experience in Paris.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I am sending you this brief from Mary Cadogan who runs the cookery school, to whet your appetite if you are keen to go for a week (2 days in Paris and 4 nights at the cookery school.

Dear Jenny,
We are delighted to enclose details of your proposed Tasting France week-long adventure. Your holiday starts with a fully guided tour of the best foodie destinations that Paris has to offer including plenty of hidden gems away from the usual tourist trail. During your 2 night stay fabulous food shops, cookshops and markets will all be included in your visit. Memorable evenings will be spent soaking in the atmosphere and savouring the flavours of la vrai Paris in cosy bistros, accompanied by a glass or two of delicious French wine. Then after all the excitement of the city it’s time to head for the tranquillity of Les Noisetiers, our peaceful village house which will be your home from home for 4 nights . During your stay you will be cooking up a storm in our cookschool kitchen, honing your cookery skills and making dishes that you will want to make time and time again when you return home. This is a very hands-on cookery course and the emphasis is very much on locally sourced seasonal ingredients. I’ll be passing on lots of tips and tricks, and we will share the dishes you have made for lunch and supper. The trip also includes visits to local small producers, such as an artisan cheese maker, small Cognac producer, markets and one evening meal at a favourite local restaurant. You will also have time to relax beside the river Charente which flows through our garden, stroll around our pretty village or cosy up in the squashy sofas in our salon. We have an extensive cookery book collection which you are very welcome to browse through.

2 nights in PARIS including the following:
2 nights hotel accommodation based on 2 sharing a twin room
3 light lunches
2 evening meals with wine, venue chosen and booked by Mary Cadogan
Metro travel around Paris
Itinerary of visits to markets, food shops, cookshops etc organised and accompanied by Mary Cadogan

High speed train travel Paris- Angouleme- Paris

4 nights cookery course at Tasting France with Mary Cadogan including all accommodation, meals, tuition, trips to food producers and travel during your stay. One restaurant meal included during your stay. Take a look at the website for more detailed information on the itinerary.

PRICE 1,700 EUROS PER PERSON (1750 for la Riviere en suite room)

Mary Cadogan and Michael Rogers
Les Noisetiers
31 Avenue des Aveneaux
Montignac Charente
(0033) 545 37 61 27

Sunday, October 25, 2009

taken a pause

I realize that when one starts a blog you need to be adding to it regularly. I am not sure yet if there is an audience and so i suppose i dont feel i have to keep people enlightened each day. Well anyhow i have to put my food diary on hold as we are in the middle of major renovations. This is a picture of the Hind's Head, a pub owned by Heston Blumenthal. It is a stones throw from his famous Fat Duck in the village of Bray, an hour or so out of London. I was priveleged to have lunch at the pub with my Brother in Law Stuart. Amazing wonderful Chicken Pie and what was referred to as a Quaking Pudding. This is a wonderful free standing wobbly egg custard style dessert, which comes with its own little potted history. Well more later. I will resume my diary in a week or two. Sorry to those potential readers who are hanging on my every word !! (not)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The wonders of Paul My first day

I ordered a coffee and a spinach and salmon quiche. I immediately chatted to the manager (a young italian with braided hair) and told him where i was from and that he should know this was my favourite patisserie. He beamed and after a little chat left me to indulge in my first good meal since leaving home. I bought a few interesting cotton bags and thought (!!!) one of them would be good to bring any excess baggage back home!! Little did I realize what excess baggage I would be accumulating.
Finally after settling myself into the basement room (not quite as nice as the the one upstairs!) and saying farewell to Paul, who rode off on his bicycle, his t shirt and sandles slapping in the breeze, I plotted what i would do for the rest of the day.
Well i was up and down the high street getting to know my surrounds. These were such shops as Waterfords Book shop (bought a new indian cookery book and a novel), Gap (3 long sleeved t shirts), facial products (Molton Brown) and this all within the first 2 or 3 hours of having arrived!!.But what fun I was already having.
I returned to Trellis cottage and had a little rest (actually exhausted after the flight and excitement of being in London). Jean Wild (the resident owner) suddenly burst through the door. she is 70 ish, over tanned with wild grey hair. She is not a small woman. She bustled upstairs, and began squealing and squeaking over a broken lamp. The picture I had in my mind of a demure slim cultured woman was immediately shattered. She actually reminded me of an old bag lady and i couldnt reconcile the amazing art and artifacts in the house with this loud uncouth personality. She was a real character though and we were to have a few laughs while I was there.
Hungry I ventured out again to a place which Jean recommended (?) called Cage Imaginaire. It seemed to be a delightful little French Restaurant (soft candlelight,french music, white table ware) down a cobbled road near to my cottage. I seemed to be the only person eating there, which seemed very strange especially as I was alone. The manager was a very pleasant young man. However he seemed to think I wanted company and hung around chatting. Eventually I was left to write in my diary and contemplate my surrounds. I was hoping my dover sole meunier was going to be fresh and tasty. But it wasn't. It was not fresh and was drowned in butter and large chunks of parsley. I did mention that it wasn't fresh but was assured it was!! I wasnt in the mood to argue. The dessert, caramelized bananas in crepes, was pleasant if not a marvel of tastes. Coffee o.k.
I concluded that this little place was really a tourist trap. 1 other table was occupied!
I walked back to the cottage (feeling quite safe to walk about alone at night) and retired for the night.

Still my first day

The lady of the house is not there, but fellow called Paul, is there to help me through the front door of what appears to be a gorgeous, quaint cottage. Loads of wonderful art,books, antiques fill me with awe. I cannot wait to meet the owner of all this magic. She must surely be a cultured older excentric personality!!. She will be back from France the next day I am told.

I discover I am in limbo for a couple of hours as the designated room has been given in error to two other people and they are busy moving. Paul hands me a cup of tea and a slice of toast. He is a small effeminate man with the look of a rabbit caught in the headlights about him. He is terribly sweet and after a small meaningless chat I go off for a well earned bath, change into some fresh clothes and hit Hamstead While i wait for me room under the stairs to be vacated.

I remember reading in travel guide that there is one of my favourite patisseries in Hamstead called Paul (no relation to the aforementioned). Well as you guessed from that comment, yes I hurried past various shops and leafy streets until I found it. Yes there it was so styish. Black outside and inside all the wonders of the pastry world, were laid out just as i had remembered. Croissants, pain de chocolate, apple pastries (sorry run out of french), fruit tarts of all kinds. Long baguettes filled with all manner of delicious savoury treats. Small quiches with delectable fillings. Breads of all looks and descriptions. This was to be my breakfast room for the next 7 days, give or take one or two.

My food adventures in Europe 2009 . My first day

Where to begin? Do I say how I wasn't feeling well and was very apprehensive before I left. Do I mention that I was on the verge of cancelling the whole holiday through fear of tummy trouble while on the plane? Or do I just say how wonderful the whole holiday was and how I felt well, my tummy behaved (bless it)and get on with the fun interesting news.

Well there was a 18 month baby next to me, and the flight was not great. The Babe behaved quite well (he slept across me and his mum)and i felt like a saint because I told the lovely British Mum that I had been in her position and that she mustn't stress. She loved me for that, the baby was happier and we all flew merrily into the blue yonder!!!.

After grabbing my one bag (on wheels!!) and my little blue ruck sack (no handbags for me) with it little blue monkey (secretly that's what made me buy it) I was out of customs and into the main hall at Heathrow. A few queries later and I had purhased my oyster card for a week, which would enable me to take trains and buses within a certain radius of London central. I was helped again with the information I needed to board the correct train to Hamstead, and with my underground map tucked firmly into my little blue rucksack (l.b.r) I sallied forth to Trellis Cottage (my home for 7 days ).

As i got out of the underground station i realized i had hit gold. Wonderful upmarket high street, loads of leafy streets, beautiful homes and a village like air about the place. I trundled my case down some lovely little cobbled lanes and finally found Trellis cottage. There it was right opposite Ye Olde White Bear Pub. All extremly picturesque and quaint in a English Villagy kind of way!!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sun 31st May

The above picture is the table at which you could sit if you attend my Cookery classes on a Wednesday once a month. It is also the table you could sit at if you wanted to organize a lunch for your friends (8-10 no less).

Well Last night we took Stuart to the Food Barn. Who is Stuart ? He is my husband Graeme's younger brother who lives in London and comes for a week or so to visit the family. He treated us which was i felt a very nice gesture and a nice way to round the week off.

I haven't been to the food barn for about a year, and I felt it was time to make a return visit. The reason i havent been is 1. I dont like the blue colour they have painted it 2. and the fine dining atmosphere (white faux leather seats and a slightly hushed atmosphere). I preferred the more rustic Barn (??) feel with the slightly farmyard feel of vegetables and smells of baked bread, along with the rest of the deli products. It is as I have stated a Barn not a Cape Cod House!!

BUT and a big But the food is the reason Igo and this is still superb. We sat upstairs (Stuart, Graeme my son Ben and I) where there were full tables of happy, hungry folk! . It was a cold night but we were bathed in the warmth that comes from Belly filling and a common love of great eating. Champagne was drunk and damn fine food was devoured. Great bread, succulent belly of pork with mash and apple (me), Sirloin and Kabeljou (them) . All the dishes were the better for the delicious pools of sauce surrounding the meat or fish (Francks Signature sauces!!)The dessert i ate was Caramelized Pear tart on a pond of custard and caramel. It was sticky, crisp and simply heavenly. The chocolate slice was pronounced wonderful. We did not have coffee. I feel on this they could improve.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sat Afternoon 2.30

I have decided that this whole blogging thing is maybe not about anything else other than keeping some kind of a food diary of my life If it has no interest for others (and why should it) it will be a way of getting back into a bit of writing.

It does all seem a little too self conscious!!!! But what the heck!

Yesterday (friday) i went with a few of the girls from the cookery class to the food and wine show. After a bit of cell phone contact most of us assembled in the Action Chef's Theatre. Ainsley Harriot was on first. What a show man, and i am sure a nice guy, but i have never been excited about his cookery on T.V or his books. Aside from his ear piece giving him trouble, his dropping of a pan with a chicken dish on the floor , and the glass front of the oven cracking and dropping all over the floor it was very entertaining (cant remember much that he made). Second up was a South African fellow (forgotten the name) who is a chef working for Jamie Oliver. He was to my mind unprofessional, and i got a sense of him being a difficult fellow to work with (or for). He didnt have much of a presence and an elderly woman from the audience, who volunteered to assist him, was not an enhancement as she gloried in the lime light.

We all split up after a cup of good Illy coffee, and i nosed around the various stalls. Not much impressed me this time. I did however manage to get rid of some money on a few things. A Skye Gygnell cookery book (more on her later) which seems very good, another Global Knife (got R100 off), a salad spinner (excellent quality) a fantastic small swiss frying pan (do i need another???) some wine, and olive oil from a small farm (the stand impressed!!) and a few other odds and sods. Later i went alone to a Skye (as above) demo, which was a gentle making of a few fish dishes. I got the feeling she hasn't done much live work, although she is well known for her wonderful cafe Petersham Nurserys in London (i have been and it is in a glass house as part of a working nursery,and very nice while being terribly expensive and a bit self consciously green).

Today i went and met 4 girlfriends at Nap (a wonderful little coffee shop in Hout Bay). we caught up with all our news over copious cups of excellent Illy Coffee, Croissants (the best) and 2 of us shared a soft moistly delicious Carrot cake. We went through exciting news, to woes and all of the stuff in between.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday 26th May. 14.13

I have had so many requests for my cupcake recipe that I thought I would put it up . This is the softest , tastiest cupcake most of us at the cookery class have ever eaten and so here it is. I promise a picture at some stage.

We all need a good cup cake recipe and having tried many this is the one that is the best. Soft and with a slight tang from the buttermilk it is simply delicious. Try it with different toppings.
Makes 12

225 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
200 g caster sugar
3 eggs
150 g buttermilk or natural yoghurt
4 tbsp milk
175 g butter, melted and cooled a little

Butter icing
100g soft butter
225 g icing sugar
4 tablespoons lemon curd
1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon rind.

1. Heat oven to 200C. Place 12 muffin cases into a muffin tray. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Beat the eggs, buttermilk, milk and melted butter together with a pinch of salt, and then stir into the dry ingredients.
3. Spoon into the cases (they should be quite full), bake for 18 -20 minutes until risen and golden, and then cool on a wire rack.
4. To make the butter icing. Beat the butter until soft and light coloured. Add the icing sugar gradually. This will be a stiff mixture, beat in the lemon curd until you have the correct consistency (not too thin). Mix in the grated lemon rind.
5. When the cup cakes are completely cold. Ice them.I love to add granadilla pulp to my icing mixture as it gives an interesting flavour, and crunch. At 5 you could omit the lemon curd and add 2 tablespoons of fresh granadilla pulp. You could push 2 strawberries through a sieve and add the rough pulp to the icing in place of any of the above, topping the cakes with a cut strawberry.

I took my children out to La Colombe last night and had the most amazing meal. Duck Confit (succulent with crisp skin), Pork belly with shoe string shaped crackling on a bed of red cabbage, and a apple tart tatin and a mousse which just about had me unable to walk out. We enjoyed a glass of champagne and did the whole chatty thing which somehow never gets done at home, as everyone is rushing in all directions.

This meal was a kind of celebration as they are now leaving the family home to live in their own miniature home (a flat we have bought). I only hope i dont suffer from the empty nest ......?

Maybe that is why I have started this blog to occupy myself with yet another little something to keep my mind off the empty spaces. Don't get me wrong I am thrilled for them and Graeme and I need some more space for ourselves.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Somehow FOOD has always been the one thing in life that has been an enduring all encompassing passion. From the aggressive dislike of the taste of milk when I was a baby to the making and selling of Date loaves when I was 12, down to my 56 year old self now that gives inspirational cookery classes. How does one develop such a passion? Some would say through one's upbringing. This is not really true for me. I would love to say I had Italian or French parents, or as a family we were adventurous in our eating. But aside from a wonderful Roast Chicken recipe(and meat loaf) and good baking skills, my mother did not pass on a passion for food. No one was my mentor in this love affair, it boiled and consumed me (and still does) from deep within my own soul. I did not attend a Cordon Bleu school (although I would have loved to have done) or any other Culinary institution. I am self taught. Well not entirely. I collected Robert Carrier Magazine a life time ago and his accuracy helped me to lay down the ground rules. I would read and cook my way through each of the booklets which arrived each month. From there I felt ready to experiment on my own. Many errors were made,back in the time of Beef Stroganoff and Chocolate mousse! But nothing got me down and I would eventually perfect a recipe that I chose. Meringues spring to mind here. First they were flat and granular, then soft and weepy (like I felt) until finally up they rose, slightly chewy, crisp and blonde coloured. To jump to today (I dont want to bore you) after running a small catering company, and opening (and closing) a small bistro, I now give cookery classes. This is where I have found my true love, combining creating food and imparting my love to others, all at the same time. I would love to do a similar thing on my blog.