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.