Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
n this winter of deep cold, snow, ice. It has been hard to be inspired about cooking. We have been eating stews, casseroles for weeks. I had thought about writing about them, but I tend to assume that everyone knows how to do this.. If not let me know and I will write a few recipe ideas. Last night we had a few friends over. I wanted to make something different for dessert. The Shepherds Pie was an easy Supper item. I love meringues in almost any shade or form. In fact it is one of the only ways I eat egg. It has always surprised me that Americans don’t eat them like we do in England. Mum often made them and all you need is a quick bowl of whipped cream to go with them. Our friend Sally Newbury makes one of my favorite desserts, Hazelnut Meringue cake. Last summer Sally gave me the recipe, I carefully wrote it in my notes, came back from England and got a new phone. Now I cannot access it. I looked at a few recipes online and came up with a recipe that worked for me. Hazelnut Meringue cake 5 egg whites 4 oz/125 grams of Bob’s Red Mill Hazelnut Flour - you can also use whole Hazelnuts, by placing the Hazelnuts on baking sheet, roasting until lightly browned in a 375 degree oven, then grind in a food processor. I wanted to try the Hazelnut flour and found it worked perfectly and was certainly easier. 8 oz caster sugar vanilla essence a few drops 1/2 tsp of vinegar. Whisk the egg whites until they hold their shape, then gradually beat in the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time, add the vinegar and vanilla essence with the last spoonful. Grease and line with parchment paper 2 8inch cake pans. Divide the meringue mixture between the two tins, and place in a 375 oven. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes. Remove, let cool in the pans. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream with caster sugar to taste. Spread whipped cream over the meringue, I put raspberries on top of the cream, but you can add sliced strawberries or peaches or nothing. Put the second cake on top of the cream, add the rest of the whipped cream to the meringue. Add more fruit on the top. Serve.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Back in September, when Rosh Hashanah fell on a 90 + degree day and I was preparing Matzoh Ball soup, Brisket, Roast roots and the like. I began to contemplate our food traditions. Clearly, what many consider the traditions of Rosh Hashanah here in the North East of the US are based on the Jewish immigrants of the 19th Century who were escaping the persecution, pogroms in the Slavic Eastern European States. By late September in Northern Europe it was probably starting to get quite cold, and what was available were roots: Beets, carrots, turnips.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
good cateress, newsletter. Nov/Dec 06 When I started to write the newsletters I knew the November and December would be the hardest to write, as they are my busiest months. So I have decided to combine them. As a caterer any sense of joy for the Christmas season is lost, but in my teen years I still had it. I need to write a little explanation here, about where I am writing about. For the most part it will be the Isle of Wight, and in particular the River Medina area from Cowes up the river to Newport. My cousin Diana, an archivist, has traced my mothers family back to the 14th Century; we are all christened, married and buried in the four parishes along the river, Cowes, East Cowes, Northwood and Whippingham. It is still for the most part a beautiful river valley although Cowes and East Cowes continue to grow along it, but much of it is unchanged for centuries. Pastoral farm land for the most part, with a public footpath that runs along the East bank.
As I write this in my office in Harlem I can look up at the wall above my desk filled with Victorian prints of the river, Whippingham Church, Uncles house in Cowes, but mostly the river from different angles and I am transported back to my roots. My parents, my aunt Janette and uncle Murray in a variety of partnerships and singly had the pub called The Folly Inn on the river. Originally, The Polly, a working barge in the 17th Century which had been swept aground in one of our notorious sou’westers, presumably during the equinox high tides and it had never been able to re-float . At some point it had become an Inn and so it remains. When Murray and Janette had the Folly in the 60’s, while doing some renovations they had discovered that the original hull was still fairly intact and had installed Plexiglas in the floor so you could see it. Further renovations had removed all that, but in the attic there were still parts of the original deck.
Also living on the river were the Cundall family. Pam and Allan with their sons, Robert, Colin and Philip ran sailing holidays on their boat the Rene Phillippe. The Rene was a large wooden motor boat, I thought she went to Dunkirk, but everybody tells me I am wrong. People came from around the world for the sailing holidays and Pam's amazing cooking. It was a wonderful life for all of us, particularly the children. We lived on a tidal river, played around on boats, Simon fished and so dug for rag worms for bait in the river silts at low tide - he was always being rescued from the gooey sucking mud. There was a copse behind the Folly for us to play in, during the Spring there were
Come early December their would be an invitation from Pam to help her make sweets/candy as Christmas presents. Some years the Rene would be tied up along the jetty, but one year I do remember rowing out to the Rene. Pam and Lucy, my mother would have worked out all the ingredients ahead of time, and of course, what I would be doing, my job was to show up. I always showed up I loved this day. One of m favorite things, was candy making. Fudge, coconut ice, truffles, marzipan fruits, chocolate corn flakes. Anything with sugar and butter.We started with fudge. As the sugar melted into the condensed milk,the tangy air of the river faded as the sweet smell pervaded the boat. I had to stir almost continuously to stop the sugar from burning onthe bottom of the pan; something that with Pam's gentle reminders never happened, but when I was alone frequently did. This was a job that called for patience, something I didn't have much of, as I stirred and watched, stirred and waited for ‘soft ball’ phase to be reached. Pam would talk to me, distracting me from my impatience with a small chore here and there that could be done during the stirring. Then without warning we were there. The smell would change. It was exciting pouring the molten mixture into trays to cool, ready to be cut into squares. Of course, I wanted to try it hot from the pan, burnt fingers and certainly scalded tongue followed. My next sweet was coconut ice. I enjoyed making it but I could never quite get my mind around laying the pink and white on top of each other, I wanted them to be side by side. Chocolate and cream turning into ganache for truffle, with each year a different flavor. Sometimes chopped apricots, always some liquor. It was put away in the fridge to solidify ready to be scooped with a melon baller and rolled in cocoa. By now the portholes were running with condensation from the steam. The water lapped against the boat as the tide turned. The following week we would get together again. Pam was very creative and had found small trays to pack our sweets on, with colored doilies as a liner and sprigs of holly with berries from the copse.
It looked and felt like Christmas.I really enjoyed these times, but one year I stopped helping Pam, I forget why, I was a teenager and it probably seemed unimportant. But I never stopped making sweets. For a brief moment in my early twenties I decided that was what I would be a sweet maker. After all I would make fudge, coconut ice and sell it to my friends. My then boyfriend, older and wiser than me, said the words that I have subsequently used on many occasions. “You will have to make an awful lot of sweets to make any money,” Its true but homemade sweets, jam, cookies and cakes are really the nicest gift to give and receive. Old fashioned Vanilla fudge 1lb Sugar 2oz butter 300 ml Magnolia (evaporated milk) vanilla essence Grease a tin 6inch x 6inch. Put the sugar, butter and magnolia in a large heavy based pan, heat gently until the sugar has dissolved and butter melted. Bring to boil and boil steadily to 240 F or soft boil stage, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from heat to cool surface, add the essence and beatuntil mixture becomes thick and creamy and grains form - minute crystals. Pour into tin. Leave until nearly cold and mark into squares with sharp knife. When it is firm cut into squares. Merry Christmas Happy Hannukah Beautiful New Year
Monday, November 18, 2013
Crucifers - Cauliflower Cheese I get very excited at this time of year for the wonderous group known as Crucifers: Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Greens, Brussels Sprouts. I have always eaten them all, Raw and cooked. The one I fell out of love with for a while was Broccoli, I am not sure why this happened.
One of my favorite dinners is a plate of Cauliflower, good potato - a waxy golden one like the French fingerlings and a carrot, all covered with a leek sauce. When we were children we would often have cauliflower cheese with a thick slice of granary bread alongside it. Again, a perfect dinner. I am not a milky person, never drink it, quite repulses me. So, I often think this was one of Mum’s ways to get some dairy into me. My trick now, is to make a spicy cheese sauce, so that the milk taste is really hidden
1 cauliflower, cut into pieces. I like to cut the large florets down Place florets in rolling boiling water. Bring back to the boil, quickly, high heat. Strain the cauliflower in a collander, I like it to sit and really drain. Then lay the cauliflower out in an oblong baker.
Stick of butter, melted. 1/2 an onion, finely chopped and gently sauteed in the butter with salt and pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard powder and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne powder. When the onions are clear, add 3/4 cup or so of flour. Stir into the butter cooking and mixing for a minute then gently start to pour in about 4 cups of milk. When you have the thickness you desire. Add a cup each of grated sharp Cheddar and Gruyere. Cook for a couple of minutes longer. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower.