The Everyday Table: An Epic Feast

So not quite an ‘everyday’ table but one that we should endeavour to undertake now and again: feeding a crowd. As it is Friday, you can plan your weekend around a feast like this one.

There is little that gives me more pleasure than feeding others but I understand that for some, the prospect of feeding a large number of people is panic inducing. It needn’t be. The recipe for success is: 1) equally mad friends also willing to cook (or bring some part of the meal with them); 2) fantastic ingredients; 3) stuff that you have made before (key!) and 4) wine. Because if all else fails, you’ll be relaxed enough not to worry too much about it. And as Julia said, never apologise! People are always grateful that you are willing to cook for them. Even if it hasn’t turned out quite as you planned, they don’t know that!

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This Everyday Table’s meat dish was Ottolenghi’s roast pork with oranges. Our pork came from Merrivale butchery and was truly spectacular, cut and boned for us by the loveliest butcher, scored, and the perfect amount to feed our hungry friends. Whilst I am the biggest fan of Sunday roasts, the sides we made were spectacular enough to hold their own, if you didn’t want to cook any meat. For sides we made red cabbage with apples; cucumber salad with ginger; butter carrots; cauliflower two ways (from the August Taste magazine and outstandingly good); and roast potatoes (following guidance from my aunt Trudie). We bought our vegetables at Karkloof Farmer’s Market and our wine choices were from Meander Fine Wines (a truly wonderful wine shop).

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We hadn’t really planned a starter, but served slices of cold roast sirloin on a bed of rocket, with many shavings of parmesan, drizzles of balsamic glaze and olive oil.

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For dessert I made blueberry tart, from The French Kitchen: A Cookbook. It is one of my favourites, written by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde. It is a wonderful wonderful book, and I packed it into my suitcase so I can cook from it more. We served the tart with a mascarpone cream.

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The meal was some effort but hugely satisfying. Lunch lasted well into the late afternoon. Afterwards there were naps and dog walking.

The Everyday Table: Rachel Roddy’s bursting tomatoes with tagliatelle

I made this on our first Saturday back, after our holiday. It is something I would normally make for dinner (being completely incapable of being functional before noon on the weekends), but Andrés was working in the evening, so I made it for our lunch (the things you do for love!) The pasta is super duper easy, and captures the sunshine bursting in the last tomatoes of the season. Rachel says you can eat it with whichever pasta you like, but we hardly ever have tagliatelle so it felt like a treat. And really now, how can anyone not be tempted by a recipe for ‘bursting tomatoes’? I am in love with the name. I served it with pork chops, salted, peppered and fried in the pan.

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Reading List (20/9)

The holiday is over. Back to reality and the new academic year. Le sigh. I am already planning our next few trips away and am trying to get back into the swing of things. Holiday blues are out if full force but I am planning some catch-up/highlights here of all the eating we did during our time at home. In the meanwhile, here is this week’s reading list!

A garden in a small space. I really want to read this book!

Diana Henry on life and inspiration in the kitchen. She has written her 10th cookbook – Simple – which looks fabulous. Here is an interview with her discussing the book.

Autumn is in the air. Plum cobbler. Plum cake. Plum torte. I came home and instantly made marjorie plum crumble for Friday night’s dessert, having found perfect crumble-plums in our massive post-holiday shop.

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I love Deliciously Stella sooo much. She is a breath of fresh air in an avocado-saturated world. Here you can find out why you should love her too.

A new blog find! Yay! With a video for apple traybake. And an article on impostor syndrome.

Advice on writing. (And life).

How much do you love Matilda? She is one of my favourite book heroines. There is much being made of 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth this month and this little essay is one commentary, plus this from Sophie Dahl.

Bake-Off has been sold to the highest bidder. And Mel and Sue are leaving. What are we going to do now?

If you are at a loss of things to do, and can afford a trip to the south of France next month, do this please.

Is meat grown in a laboratory kosher?

There is still much work to be done around helping children eat well during school lunchtime.

This video appeared on a friend’s Facebook page and it is just lovely – British bakers in the 1960s. I particularly love the spun sugar and the marzipan-covered cake.

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Reading List (13/9)

Today (and most of this week) I am in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal. We cooked all weekend. Jen came to stay. Yesterday we went down to Durban and ate fabulous seafood at The Oyster Box Hotel. Today and tomorrow we are simply relaxing, walking the two tiny dogs, and cooking some more.

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This cookbook and lasagne recipe.

Chef’s Table explores France! (Super excited. Weekend plans sorted.) Also the review on Eater.

Autumn is approaching (spring is coming where we are currently but will sadly have to leave on Thursday) and this plum tart fits the season perfectly for me.

Jen slow-roasted tomatoes for salad over the weekend. They were divine and lifted the flavours and textures to more interesting heights. Serious Eats tells you how and why you should do this.

Sustainable farming methods to help improve the soil and our climate.

The importance of silence.

The role of the sugar industry in shaping our diets.

Chefs in schools.

Do you get as much satisfaction from zoodles as from noodles?

I finished Early One Morning yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed it –  a tale of women in Rome during the Second World War, which moves forward to the 1970s and back again. I have started The Midnight Queen today (which I found at the airport yesterday).

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Reading List (5/9)

Today I am coming to you live from Cape Town. So far we have eaten much (at Pot Luck Club and Hassar Grill), seen penguins and driven to where the two oceans meet. Today we are headed to Babylonstoren. I will write up a things to do in Cape Town list soon soon.

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I loved the look of this fig and fennel ice-cream recipe.

On chefs and their cookbooks.

I finished The Outrun (read it! read it!) and have started Early One Morning which I bought at the airport. I also intend to borrow Longbourn from Jen.

We have had a few conversations on this article from the New Yorker. Is a restaurant ever really exclusive? Ever really fully booked? Ever really run by one man?

Short list today as I haven’t done much reading this week!

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Reading List (30/8)

Greetings dearest ones! This post is coming to you from Kruger Park, in good old South Africa! We have been in the country for a few days now, have caught up with dear friends, done a brief introduction in Joburg (we shall have to return soon) and we are now spending our time searching for leopards, lion and the like! It is awesome.

Here are some things I’ve been reading over the past week.

Super excited for the publication of The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. It is a blog I read regularly and love. Also, this smores ice cream cake looks divine.

I saw an Instagram post with The Outrun in it last week. The cover looked like my kind of book, and when I read it is set on Orkney, I had to read it. I started it before we left on holiday and it is wonderful. I devoured most of it in-transit. I love the combination of nature writing and memoir, the descriptions of island life, and the stories of the sky. Brilliant read. Get your hands on it if you can.

Food and performance, teaching about food waste.

Courgettes and mozzarella anyone?

A restaurant in a refugee camp.

I loved loved loved the Serious Eats podcast, Special Sauce, last week. They interviewed Stella Parks, the Serious Eats ‘pastry wizard’ (future job title me thinks) and blogger at Brave Tart and she was just totally awesome. I particularly loved when she talked about being in culinary school and how everyone was talking about reading MFK Fisher and she was like who?

What happens to the bulls that die in bullfighting?

Fig and oatmeal bars. These look good for snacks. And picnics.

Until next week! x

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Cookbook Club: Nigel Slater’s Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food

This past Sunday we finally got around to hosting a new Cookbook Club evening. It was, in truth, four friends meeting for dinner but cooking from the same book – this time, Nigel Slater’s Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food but it was super amounts of fun, laughter and excellent food. Everyone made two dishes, because (we thought naively), the dishes seemed small and the whole point of Cookbook Club is to get a taste of everything. (We made lunchboxes for Monday with the leftovers).

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Collectively we made: pancetta-crumbed mozzarella salad (which I used bacon for as I couldn’t find pancetta); pork ribs with honey and pomegranate molasses; tomato foccacia with ricotta; summer herb rolls; rice cakes; lentils, peas and grilled salmon; and to finish: mango and passionfruit mess. Micky proved her foccacia dough in her car, driving to her grandparents in Gloucester in the morning. And her tomatoes came from her mum’s garden! (None of the rest of us was quite that cool.) I made the meringues from scratch, as I had frozen egg whites that needed using.

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Brown Sugar Meringues

120g egg white

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

160g golden caster sugar

40g demerara sugar

40g light brown sugar

Whisk the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks. Add in the cream of tartar and whisk briefly. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time until glossy, thick and stiff.

Preheat the oven to 100C. Line a baking tray with a silpat mat or baking paper. If using baking paper, use teaspoons of the meringue to secure the corners of the parchment to the tray.

Scoop the meringue onto the tray using a dessert spoon. Bake for two hours then switch off the oven and leave overnight.

Combine with cream and fruit!

Next month we are cooking from the Hairy Biker cookbooks.