It was a week or two ago now but my gorgeous foodie friend Alice Hart and I ran a night in the Bert & May warehouse. I love cooking with Alice; we work well together whilst managing crises, dancing around the kitchen and offering well-timed words of encouragement. The menu was simple and in all honestly, too much was left until the final hour or two but you’ve gotta love a load of last minute kitchen panic. The crockery was stunning – Bert & May originals – and the atmosphere buzzing. Tickets sold out so I think we may be doing another evening, I’ll keep you posted.
I’ve been quiet for a month or so. My book, due to be out next year has slightly taken over life, what with the shoots, recipe writing and general research. For the time being, the manuscript sits with a designer so I have a few weeks of breathing space. I’ll show you snippets as soon as I’m able.
According to the calendar, summer is upon us, though the weather tells us differently. This season means picnics and playtime and not much will excite my boys more than a planned al fresco meal (even if all too often the location is a patch of well used inner city grass). There are the shop bought juice cartons and packets of crisps of course – but I do always try to make something. It makes me feel like I’m ticking that mum box.
You cook this fresh, quite simple, English filling within filo, until just crispy. The taste is mild, suitable for tiny people and the size is just right for Tupperware.
Originally a recipe developed for Higgidy, and now has become one of my favourites.
COURGETTE, MINT & RICOTTA PARCELS
1 courgette, grated
1 small bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
1 medium egg + 1 egg, beaten for brushing
1 pack filo (6 x 45g sheets)
60g butter, melted
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/gas mark 6. Pop the grated courgette in a sieve and squeeze to allow excess water to drain.
2 Mix the courgette, mint, ricotta and egg together in a bowl and season generously.
Lay a sheet of filo on the work surface and brush with melted butter. Sandwich a second sheet on top and brush again before cutting the double-thickness filo, lengthways, into three strips.
3 Starting at one end of a strip, pop a large spoonful of the mixture into a corner. Fold the corner over diagonally, to form a triangle, and continue folding in this way until you reach the other end of the strip.
4 Glaze your finished parcels with an egg wash, sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake for 20 minutes.
One of my favourite jobs I've taken on this year; to style the cover for a new, sparkly, rebranded Co-Op magazine. Shoots can vary. Sometimes they flow, feel light and breezy during the day and others can seem hard work, the food not doing quite what you would hope.
This cover shoot was gorgeous. The image was shot by the very talented Maja Smend - http://www.majasmend.com - under the direction of Amanda Grant. The brief was exciting as CoOp dramatically re thought the look of their mag, returning to their roots and concentrating on the quality of their ingredients. The logo has reverted back to an original, used years ago and the majority of cover lines have been removed. It's clean and successfully retro.
My handmade floury wrap needed to look appetising, doable and bright. I think we managed to tick all of the boxes.
This morning is a stolen morning. Grandparents have come to the rescue and whisked the boys away to the farm for an hour or two and I sit, in my still house, for a few blissful minutes.
This recipe is something I wanted to share for a few days. I’d say it fits neatly into the bracket of a ‘heritage collection’. I’m sure we have all had or tried something similar before; a dense, heavy, dark chocolate slab that cuts like cold butter. This sort of recipe is noted down on a scrap of paper or forged in memory but quickly forgotten, and often a reliable version can’t be located. Well here it is… a recipe that Higgidy have written for their archive and I cooked and photographed as proof. We sprawled over salted caramel but a dusting of cocoa powder is all that is really necessary.
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
PREP TIME – 30 Minutes
COOK TIME – 40 Minutes
200g dark chocolate, broken up
200g unsalted butter, cubed
200g caster sugar
5 free-range eggs, separated into two separate bowls
30g cocoa powder
1. Preheat oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas mark 3, grease a 23cm cake tin and line with parchment. Gently melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl and leave aside to cool.
2. Whisk 100g of caster sugar in a bowl with the egg yolks until pale and thick. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, gradually adding the remaining sugar until the mixture is thick and shiny.
3. Fold the melted chocolate mix into the egg yolks. When fully incorporated, gently fold in the egg white mix. Pour the gloopy chocolate mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes.
4. Turn the oven off and leave the cake inside to cool for around 10 minutes – the cake will sink and crack slightly.
In nearing my mid thirties, birthday expectations seem to dim year on year. The merriments seem nothing as exciting as milestone of becoming 4. I don’t spend hours planning my party/parties, requesting ambitious cakes or deciding whether babies should or shouldn’t be invited.
However, this year I enjoyed the most unexpected of sunny, light days and was surrounded by birthday love. I was given not one, but two slices of strawberry tart, fresh from the counter of our favourite cake shop. One for me and one to satisfy Jasper, of course.