go vegan shouts the sign

go vegan shouts the sign (1)

“Go Vegan” shouts the sign
“I’m TRYING” I scream back.

I grabbed those baby brioches from yesterday, you remember the ones – full of butter, milk and a load of eggs, so there’s my vegan adventure halfway down the drain, will have to remember to use pita next time. This is important!
Make a cut. deep. sharp. serrated, but not all the way through.
Then, like a squirrel, or nimble dinosaur, I discreetly ‘borrow’ from the kitchen some carrot, celery, sundried toms, fresh cherry toms, ‘green stuff’, fresh peppers, beet leaves, chillies, spinach, cauliflower
(fresh cauliflower is crunchily amazing in this, let me tell you!)

Go vegan shouts the sign, smiling with pride: “I’m TRYING” I keep shouting back, with a spoonful of olive oil and some sea salt and black pepper.

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gorgonzola and roast fennel

gorgonzola and roast fennel

Happy new year to everyone. There have been quite a fe people getting in touch asking what I’ve been up to and where I’m going next. I think it’s going to be a year of gorgonzola and roast fennel, that’s for sure, and what I mean by that, I suppose, is that I’m going to have more of an opportunity to develop, create and play around with more ideas, and generally have a lot more fun!

Back to the gorgonzola and roast fennel thing, it’s not just about flying in, handing over a couple of recipes, baking a few cakes and then flying back out again to the next job. It doesn’t work that way, almost never does. I wish it could be that simple!

Lots of techniques and systems need to be put into place, building motivation and enthusiasm for a project until a team are ready to take things by themselves. Fledgling students learning to fly high with confidence, skill and speed. That’s where the real satisfaction comes from.

And my work here is done!

Thanks to everyone for your continued support, happy new year 2014!

peppers in Siberia

peppers in Siberia

I spent the whole weekend looking for peppers in Siberia. It’s not the easiest thing to do, with the weather and general supply of products available. Why exactly did I need peppers this weekend? The idea was to flame-roast them in all their colours and add them to a mouthwatering spinach and sour cream quiche I’d been dreaming of all that week…

I thought that would hit the spot with a salad and a bright winter’s afternoon. I kept thinking back to those conversations where people keep telling me I should be eating meat while living in Russia, that living as a vegetarian here was nearly impossible. I should just forget it. Then I shook my head again and went back to the (constant) challenge of finding peppers in Siberia. Sometimes determination can give you the answer. Sometimes, you just go home freezing cold.
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Vegetarian in Russia

vegetarian in Russia

Keep your oven temperatures under control!
A lot of people keep TELLING me how hard it must be to eat as a vegetarian in Russia.

Give me some roast vegetables, milk, butter, cream, eggs and flour and I’ll survive.
Maybe some sea salt, black pepper and fresh lemon, too…

It’s very easy to be a vegetarian in Russia.

As I said, keep you oven temperatures under control and, as always, measure your ingredients carefully.
roast plumpkin quiche…

carrot coriander cress salad

cress carrot coriander salad

 

Take the simplest of summer ingredients for a carrot coriander cress salad and a great looking summer meal. Then get back to me and we’ll cook some more!

But there’s the question, isn’t it? What do we really mean when I say ‘simple’ ingredients? What is simple to me could be exotic to you: peppercorns
were regularly traded as currency and historically were more valuable than gold! Am I trying to say a ‘summer meal’ is different to a ‘winter meal’ or just that there’s less of it…? This could become complicated, but really doesn’t need to be:

Cress, coriander, carrot, lime, flax or olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds… (a little summer sunshine also helps a little)

How do we get those long strips – we can’t cut like that? Is it a ‘dry’ salad – isn’t there any dressing? What are the proportions – how many carrots? Isn’t it too bland -can I add some cheese or mayo for ‘flavour’? Is this a ‘raw’ salad? I can’t eat that – where’s the meat? Can I have some more?

These are some of the questions I was asked at a local demo class a short while ago. You see, one thing is just throwing a few ingredients together and hope it’ll work out fine. Another thing totally is to be able to grab a few simple summer ingredients, combine then in both an attractive AND tasty way, and believe that some of the class will be intrigued enough to try and make it again.

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busy red velvet birthday cake

red velvet busy birthday cake

A recipe for making a busy red velvet birthday cake on a packed, non-stop Saturday in the bakery. Caramelised pecans included, but definitely not for the faint-hearted…

This story reminds me of the people we constantly work with and the food we share. In a restaurant, bakery, hotel, cafe or wherever, there is a team of people working in close proximity, facing the ups and downs of the day as a collective and, despite the stress and hard work, making the most of those shared moments to improve their day.

A busy non-stop Saturday in the bakery. Doors open at 08:00 and immediately a steady flow of hungry regulars, new faces, breakfast crowds, curious readers of online reviews, others who simply like the look of the cakes from outside and decide to come inside. Continue Reading