One of the places we were very keen to visit was The Pot Luck Club, at Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill. Luke Dale Roberts is a a bit of a legendary chef and everyone had raved about this restaurant. So we booked for a Sunday brunch.
Everything about the day was super. The service was good. The bottomless Bloody Mary’s and Graham Beck brut rose were divine (I mean really, pink bubbles on holiday, does one need anything else?) and the food was simply spectacular. We ate. We drank. We talked for hours. It was quite the best way to spend a Sunday. I figured a photo series could better express my delight at the meal…
These smores though. Le sigh.
This is the dish to eat when you are mostly in need of vegetables. Although Andrés would disagree, this is like the Spanish version of ratatouille. It is simple to make: dice the vegetables you want to use into small-ish chunks, about 1.5cm. You don’t want things so small that they disappear in the sauce. We used aubergines, courgettes (zucchini), onions, carrots, tomatoes and peppers. Cook these all separately until soft and tender. Heat a carton or tin of tomatoes in a large pot. Add all the vegetables back in and bring to a simmer. Serve with a fried egg and some bread for dipping, glooping-up the sauce. Voila!
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!
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).
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.
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.
The meal was some effort but hugely satisfying. Lunch lasted well into the late afternoon. Afterwards there were naps and dog walking.
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.
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).
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.
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.
This is slow cooking for a lazy (and cautiously autumnal) Saturday afternoon. It was inspired by Felicity Cloake’s latest ‘perfect’ article in The Guardian this week – on kleftiko lamb. I love the idea of a one-pot meal but don’t have too many in my repertoire. I marinated the shoulder of lamb (only 800g necessary for the two of us for several days) in cinnamon, oregano, juice of half a lemon and garlic, as suggested by Cloake. But I only had three hours before it needed to go into the oven. Next time I will be organised and marinate it overnight. I cooked the lamb in a crock pot on top of a bed of potatoes (cut into chunks), the ends of several peppers that were on the out in the fridge (there are always portions of peppers in my fridge. I never really believed in cultural staples until Andrés moved in and brought with him tins of tuna and peppers), a few bulbs of garlic sliced in half, half a lemon squeezed, a red onion cut into wedges, a handful of various tomatoes I had, and of course, the lamb. I baked this all (with some water, as suggested), covered at 160C for nearly four hours. Then I added in sliced carrots and peas. I followed the instructions to turn up the heat for the last fifteen or so minutes and cook without the lid on.The meat was succulent and falling off the bone. The vegetables soft and tender and amazingly fragrant. Definitely going to make this again.
Wednesday evening dinner: inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s lentil salad and The Violet Bakery Cookbook’s tomato and marjoram tarts. I used the flaky pastry from Violet, which I swear is the best and easiest flaky pastry I have made in forever. I bought loads of tomatoes at the weekend and simply filled the tart with these, all sliced in half. I brushed the folded edges with egg wash and then baked it at 200C for approximately 35 minutes. It could probably have done with some more time in the oven (just to crisp it a little further) but we were hungry. (We didn’t eat until 10pm because I had a meeting at 7pm so I prepped everything before I left and came home to finish it off.) For the salad, I followed the instructions on SK – using the same amount of lentils and courgettes. I used a banana shallot and one clove of garlic. I didn’t measure the dressing ingredients, choosing to just wing it to taste. We fried cubes of halloumi instead of burrata and added in tinned red peppers that Andrés found in the cupboard, unlabeled. This is one of my favourite summer dinners. It is a little bit of work to throw together but is delicious and most of it can be made in advance.