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Home Made

6 Nov

Cooking has grown on me slowly. It started with my mum’s easy peasy quiche when I started university and had to cook for myself. Then the baking bug bit me and has stayed under my skin ( see Cupcake Magic). Now I consider myself a competent, if somewhat nervous, cook. Combine this with my love of books and you have a recipe book junkie.

I stumbled across Home Made in the Exclusive Books sale and I had to have it. Not only is the name appealing to me, but the gorgeous cover design, photos and the fact it’s written by Gordon Ramsay’s wife, Tana, all convinced me it would be mine!

And so the book sat on our house’s beautifully cultivated cook book shelf. Until I decided enough was enough and it was time to invite the girls round for a dinner. The dinner would be entirely from Tana Ramsay’s Home Made  (and Woolworths) and I would roast…gasp… lamb!

This only deserves a gasp because I had never done it before. And how easy it turned out to be.  Home Made  lives up to it’s byline – “Good, honest food made easy” My menu for the evening was:

  • Leg of lamb with pancetta, rosemary and tomato sauce
  • crushed new potatoes with feta
  • green salad
  • Woolworths plaited bread with feta, spinach and mushroom (buy it – it’s delish!)
  • Peach cobbler
  • Itatian kisses (Woolworths again!)

The lamb was incredibly easy to make, asking only a few minutes attention before popping it into a hot oven for 20 minutes. After this the oven must be turned down and I had to get making the pancetta and tomato sauce. I used bacon instead of pancetta but I don’t think it compromised the taste at all. Again, the sauce was very simple. A few hours in the oven, alongside the potatoes and the lamb was ready.

I was nervous for the girls to taste my first attempt at lamb, but I needn’t have been. I was greeted with ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ which are very gratifying when all I did was follow an excellent recipe! The best part was when I took the left over lamb to work (2,2kg fed seven girls, plus five hungry teachers the next day!)  One of our lovable Maths teachers is a respectable Greek gentleman and he asked for a second helping of lamb. Tana Ramsay – you have given me a reputation for great Greek lamb!

But I haven’t mentioned dessert – the best part of any meal! Ramsay’s baked peach coobler is the most gratifying baked dessert for the least effort I have come across. I have just eaten another helping while writing this because, three days after my dinner, I had to make it again to show my mum 🙂 This needs to be tasted, not described, so here it the recipe below, (the way I made it, which is a little different)- please make it yourself soon, even if it is summer!

Ingredients:

2 – 410g tins peach halves

115g self-raising flour

50g castor sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

60g butter

1 egg yolk

60 ml buttermilk

Put the peaches and syrup in a sauce pan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. In the meantime, sift flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Rub in the cold butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the yolk and buttermilk. Put the peaches and syrup in a flat ovenproof dish. Dollop spoonfuls of batter around the peaches. Bake at 180C for 30-40 mins or until golden brown with bubbly syrup. Serve with anything. WOW!

Tana Ramsay

I am so glad I bought Home Made. Tana Ramsay writes very clear instructions and the ingredients are easy to get hold of or easy to replace. I say this because the fish section is dominated by typical English fish, like cod, monkfish and sardines, but one can easily find a South African equivalent.

The only difference I had to make to the recipes was to cook everything slightly longer, but I have a very small oven, so as soon as lamb and potatoes are both in the oven, the temperature is sucked up very quickly.

Now I will hold my head with pride as I say, “Why, yes, I can make a leg of lamb. Can’t everyone?’ And I’ll know I have Ramsay on my side.

Cupcake Magic: little cakes with attitude

26 Aug

Have I mentioned I’m obsessed with cupcakes? Those delicious little bite sizes of heaven which have glorious potential for flavour and decoration and all round yumminess? I haven’t? Well, this is where it went from mild interest to full blown obsession – Cupcake Magic.

Kate Shirazi has created a stunning book dedicated to mixing, baking and decorating my favourite delicacy. The best part about this book is how the chapters are divided – “Low Faff”, “Mid Faff” and “High Faff”! From this I could immediately tell that this was going to be my kind of book. If you have ever baked cupcakes (which I highly recommend trying, even if you think you can’t bake) then you will know that the decoration depends completely on time at hand and the mood you are in. Cupcake Magic caters perfectly to finding the perfect cupcake for both these criteria.

When I have time my personal favourite is the “Black Forest Gateau Cupcake” (pictured below), but for quickies, I opt for the “Basic No-Mucking Around Cupcake” which is true to its name and can just be sprinkled with icing sugar – mmmmm… good. (Mine are pictured with purple royal icing).

Kate Shirazi has devised easy, light and fluffy recipes which all bake in 20 minutes. Her icing recipes are so useful and she also includes how to make decorations for the more adventurous (I have only got as far as roses!). Her style is informal and she will guide you every step of the way to perfect cupcakes, including tips on ingredients, baking supplies and decorations (I love edible glitter!).

Something interesting about the recipes is that they all call for margarine. Most bakers frown on this, but Shirazi bravely takes a stand and admits that for cupcakes, and only cupcakes, she prefers margarine because it makes for fluffier batter. She has quickly won me over with edible proof. Plus, who couldn’t trust someone who saves battery chickens and only uses free range eggs? (She did actually save battery chickens and now has her own egg supply at home).

I highly recommend this book for any aspiring baker or someone who simply loves cake. Plus the photographs and layout are so gorgeous that this book would give anyone’s kitchen shelves a lift.

Thank you to Sarah Duff for photographing my creations (yes, I actually made these ones!). Please check out her stunning blog at www.veggiedelish.com (it really is delish).

Just to give you a little taste – here’s the recipe for “Black Forest Gateau Cupcakes”

 Makes 12 delicious cupcakes

85g self-raising flour

4 Tbsp cocoa powder

110g castor sugar

110g margarine

1 tsp baking powder

2 large free-range eggs

1 jar cherry jam ( I used Pick’n’Pay Morello jam)

200ml whipping cream

60g dark chocolate

1 tin black cherries, drained

Pre-heat oven to 170˚C. Line muffin pan with cupcake cases (this will make washing up and getting the cupcakes out easier).

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and sugar into a large bowl, or food processor. Add marg, baking powder and eggs. Beat well until batter is light and fluffy. Spoon mixture into the cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch. Remove and allow to cool.

Once cool, smother the top of each cupcake with a generous amount of jam, then pile whipped cream on top. Finish with some grated chocolate. I then finish them off with black cherries, but Kate Shirazi suggests glace cherries on a stick.

WOW!