Saturday, 19 April 2014

Cooking up a storm... again.

I find cooking a relaxing hobby.

It's a little strange perhaps, but it is something to which I can give my full attention, ignoring the stresses of life and allowing my mind and body to focus on the task at hand. This in itself acts as a form of meditation whilst at the same time feeling more productive than meditation or yoga.


The only down side is that the food prepared needs to be eaten and is often in the form of cakes and biscuits, the majority of which a small family of three has no possible chance of finishing themselves. Then of course there's the added bonus of suitable praise being heaped upon the cook when the outcome of the cooking is shared with family and friends.

I'm joined in this love of cooking by my sister and Claire and so occasionally we join forces and whip up a feast or two that family and friends are then co-erced into eating. The first occasion was a good few years ago now, an Algerian feast prepared over two weekends and eaten in appropriate style, on rugs and cushions piled around a long table placed on the floor and covered with food.


With the sheer amount of food we plied people with, it wasn't surprising when a number of guests settled down for a snooze in order to digest their mains and prepare themselves for the dessert course.

It's a dreadful habit of ours, but with a delight in feeding grateful people, we organised another feast; this time for the members and partners of our Playwriting group.

The menu for this evening wasn't extensive but then we only had 24 hours to prepare it as opposed to the two weekends of previous occasions, and we only had 12 people to feed.

Kale and Fetta triangles
Kale and Fetta filo quiches

Saffron Chicken with Tah Dig (Crunchy Rice), Salty Salsa and Herb Salad
Goat Curry
Chinese spiced Roasted Pork Belly
Cauliflower puree
Roasted pumpkin and beetroot
Beans with mustard cream

Chocolate Mousse Cake
Chocolate Truffle Cookies
Tea Biscuits
Devonshire Tea
Fruit platter

(This was augmented with a Bloody Mary Casserole and a
delightful selection of nibbles and drinks provided by our guests)

Raw Ingredients. 
We'd started marinading the pork and cooking the goat the evening before to ensure more intense flavours
Grinding the saffron for the chicken.

Arguing with the filo pastry for the triangles. Each piece should be cut into three and then
 rolled to created filled triangle parcels. Provided the filo behaves correctly...
Goat Curry, complete with marrow bones.

Claire and I have both been given the Flavour Thesaurus for our birthday by friends and this marinade evolved from the combinations therein. Bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries, coriander seeds, star anise, soy sauce, Chinese rice wine vinegar.

Not being a fan of potatoes the roast veggies were restricted to pumpkin and beetroot. Ready to go into the oven.

Whisking up the chocolate cake: eggs sugar...
cocoa powder, lots of chocolate and butter. 
Worth it!
The chocolate mousse cake is a tried and tested French recipe with no flour, just a lot of chocolate, butter and eggs. Pure decadence. I had been hoping to flavour it with cardamon, but the powders I found in the kitchen were so old they'd lost all association with the spice. Next time.

Tea Biscuits
The tea biscuits are supposed to contain Earl Grey or Lady Grey tea, pulling in the citrus and bergamot flavours. I didn't have any though so I used a combination of herbal tisanes floating around the house. What it resulted in were beautiful 'hippy' biscuits flavoured with chamomile, lavender, mint, white pear, rose petals and lemon balm.

At 16:00 two of our guests arrived for a political discussion with scones (and jam and cream) to be joined a few hours later for the main meal and program of entertainment.

On a previous occasion we resorted to small amounts of alcohol to ensure our guests mingled properly as opposed to remaining in their own small little groups.

On this occasions no such 'persuasion' was required.


The only dis-satisfied guest. 
It was a delightful evening. Now to determine the theme for our next feast...


  1. So many photos taken that I totally didn't see you take! :)


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