In My Kitchen – March 2015

Thank goodness that February is a short month – it brings those of us in the Northern Hemisphere just a little closer to Spring! Nonetheless, I’ve had a lot going on in my kitchen despite also spending two glorious weeks in Cape Town to attend the wedding of one of my oldest friends. I thought that you might like to see some photos of the stunning table setting and the food which was divine. The last photo above, is of the first course. I brought back our name cards as a momento. (If you click on the first photo, you can see the enlarged version of each picture in the gallery.)

In my kitchen there have been blood oranges, cavolo nero and fregola from which I made a salad because earlier in the month, I together with some friends, visited a fabulous shop called Vallebona which I wrote about here. It’s full of gourmet Sardinian groceries. These are some of the goodies I brought back.

IMK March 2015 | Selma's Table

Olive oil, truffle honey, grape must

We sampled the honey with white truffle on cheese and I tried some blue cheese with the grape juice must which were both wonderful. They both went into my basket! Vallebona sell a very thin cracker that comes in huge sheets which you just break off to eat – it’s called Carta Musica and lasts forever. I also bought the green tea with cherry blossom which is lovely.

I popped into a couple of local charity shops and came away with more china bargains. It’s becoming a bit of an obsession now – how did I go from shoes to plates?

I had this beautiful purple savoy type cabbage in my Sutton Community Farm veg box – unfortunately there was no time to make anything with it before I left, so I gave to a friend.

Cape Town has a fantastic food culture and I always look forward to seeing what they are up to. This time, a friend took me to a tiny award winning restaurant called Chefs Warehouse and Canteen run by a chef Liam Tomlin and his wife Jan.  They serve a very popular tapas style menu which is what we had. Wow – such incredible food – balanced, intense flavours and beautifully presented. There are more photos on my Instagram feed.

There is also a small but well curated shop attached, full of professional cookware, ceramics, ingredients and cookbooks. I bought a gorgeous glazed tapas dish just like the one we were served calamari in and a couple of packets of fruity buttery toffees – Sour Fig and Orange and Pomegranate. I really wish that I had bought a copy of his “Tapas” book but I just can’t justify another cookbook at the moment.

The friends we were staying with took us to the Oranjezicht City Farm Market which is held on the grounds of the Premier Helen Zille’s official residence, Leeuwenhof. Every Saturday, she opens up the gardens and the pool to the general public and independent local farmers and artisanal food producers. Apparently it’s the equivalent of David Cameron opening up Chequers to the hoi polloi! The fresh produce is fantastic and I was very surprised at how delicious the cheeses were too. There was a separate tent full of stall holders making and selling gorgeous and healthy food to eat.

I bought some intensely deep flavoured honey which took me right back to my childhood in Nairobi. This honey is similar to the Arabian Sidr Honey. I also bought a bottle of fig and grape must chutney.

A couple of days after returning to London, I received a lovely Welcome Home card and pack of black garlic from Elaine of foodbod which was such a surprise and had me squealing in delight.

Well, that is it from my kitchen this month – huge thanks to the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is so inspiring!  Make yourself a cuppa and have a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked her post to her blog name so click and take a little tour!

Before you take your leave, feast your eyes on this amazing sunset – a display that Capetonians enjoy most evenings!

Sunset over the South Atlantic Ocean

Sunset over the South Atlantic Ocean from Seapoint, Cape Town

In My Kitchen – February 2015

Emergency Fund Raiser for Kim and Russ Bultman.

The devastating aftermath of the electrical fire which razed the Bultmans’ home to the ground.

I would like to start this post saying how grateful I am to have a kitchen from which to show you my lovely bowls on the window ledge, my favourite pots and pans, my old china, my best knife, my latest foodie discoveries and share with you the joy of my sourdough starter, Twinkle. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not have any of it. To lose not only the things in my kitchen but everything in my home. To literally only have the clothes that I am standing in. Take a minute and imagine not having your photos, your child’s first shoes, your books, possessions that have been handed down through the family…This happened to fellow blogger, Kim Bultman (of the blog, A Little Lunch) whom I “met” through Celia’s IMK series. She and her husband, Russ lost everything on the day of their wedding anniversary, in November as a result of a devastatingly fast electrical fire which swept through their lakeside home in Oklahoma and razed it to the ground in a matter of an hour. Luckily they are both fine and have been incredibly positive about the whole thing. Their daughter Pamela set up a fund raising site and in an absolute testament to Kim’s selfless nature, she asked her daughter to put off publicising it until after Christmas so as not to affect anyone’s enjoyment of the festive season. They are insured but as you can imagine, the insurance does not cover everything. One of the things that Kim would like to buy with any money raised, is a new cooker/stove. Please do consider donating even a small amount to help Kim and Russ. There are only 20 days left and not even half their goal of $5,000 has been reached. Imagine yourself in their situation and show them some love. This is the link to where the smallest of Paypal donations will make a difference –  Kim & Russ Bultman Fundraiser

In My Kitchen – Elaine (of the blog, foodbod) and I met up in Shepherd’s Bush the other Saturday, as it is a Middle Eastern treasure trove of food shopping and eating. Elaine wrote a fabulous post all about it, which many of you will have read, so I won’t detail it here – take a look at her post if you missed it – it was such a lovely day out with fabulous food and wonderful people!  I did come back with a few goodies!

In my kitchen there are the most fragrant of dried rose petals. The man at the check out asked me what I intended to do with them and, as I mumbled something about harissa, (how could I say they were for pretty pictures?!) he told me that his wife makes something, “even better than what you eat in a 5 star hotel – a little thick yoghurt, a little honey, a few almonds and a few of these petals.” Raising his hand and kissing the tips of his fingertips he proclaimed, “Delicious!” It is.

I also picked up a bottle of a Palestinian first, cold pressed, extra virgin, olive oil by a Fair Trade company called  Zaytoun.  I was touched to think that trees were as old as friendships and a lifeline for the children and was immeasurably moved to read that …”Beyond conflict and upheaval, runs the thread of a vibrant culture and we proudly share its gifts…”

In my kitchen - February 2014 | Selma's TableA friend of mine since Jake’s prep school days has finally started a blog called Happy Street London. Anita has a very popular Instagram feed which led her to blogging. She is one of the most nurturing and caring people I know and her blog is just another way for her to reach more people and share the love. She recently wrote a post about a quinoa salad that just looked and sounded so delicious that when I saw a box of this Black Quinoa, I had to pop it in my basket!

I was just about to walk over to the cashier when I realised that there was a butchery counter in the shop. I stopped to take a look and saw piles of merguez – the North African spiced sausages. I asked if they were made in-house and was told that yes, they were made fresh each day! Bingo! I bought a few of each flavour – Chicken, Spicy and Original. They are wonderful on the barbecue but also fabulous in a Shakshuka which is just what I made the next day for brunch.

We went on to a shop called Nut Case which Elaine had already scouted out – it was filled with lots nut based delicacies including these gorgeous pastries – Ma’amoul are filled with dates and these pistachio ones were not too sweet at all.

In my kitchen - February 2014 | Selma's TableWe rounded off the shopping with a wonderful mezze lunch and all I can say is that I plan on visiting again when I run out of tahini because, as you can see, there is no shortage of it on the Uxbridge Road!

I was asked to review a new cookbook called FIVE by Rachel de Thample and sent a veg box from Able and Cole to come up with a FIVE inspired recipe. The book is just fabulous – there’s not a thing that I wouldn’t make from it and have already ear marked lots of recipes. For my review post, I made a Ruby Chard, Shitake Mushroom and Chestnut Tart. I have a copy of the book to give away and will post this week with all the details and a new recipe too.

IMG_In my kitchen - February 2014 | Selma's TableMy Sutton Community Farm veg boxes have been great this month. I’ve had acorn squash as well as celeriac which we have had as Remoulade as well as roasted under fish.

IMG_In my kitchen - February 2014 | Selma's TableThere has been sweet, crisp purple kohlrabi which I love, cut into batons and served as a healthy vehicle for houmous or to dip into a little EVOO, balsamic vinegar and sea salt.

IMG_In my kitchen - February 2014 | Selma's TableThere have also been rainbow carrots which have an incredibly intense flavour when roasted. Here they surrounded a chicken on a bed of thyme.

From the leftovers of the roast chicken, I made a delicious pot pie, inspired by one of Anita’s posts on Happy Street London.

I was invited to coffee at a friend’s house and offered to bake something. I had seen a recipe for chocolate chip cookie and brownie tarts. Of course, I left it until the last minute to bake them the night before. They were an absolute disaster – the cookie dough was too greasy and filled up the mini tart tins too much. Then when they baked  they were a hot, crumbly mess with no hope in million years of coming out of the tins intact. I tried to make a few in shallow patty pans but again the cookie dough proved to be a problem. By this time, it was far too late to bake anything else so I ended up rather sheepishly buying a couple of toffee muffins from Marks & Spencer as well as taking over a loaf of Twinkle sourdough which I had intended to anyway. Bah!

Well, that is it from my kitchen – huge thanks to the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is so inspiring!  Make yourself a cuppa and have a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked her post to her blog name so click and take a little tour!

Please remember to donate a little something to Kim and Russ’s emergency fund raiser if you can – if you haven’t already clicked, this is the link –  Kim & Russ Bultman Fundraiser

Have a wonderful February, everyone!

In My Sourdough Kitchen – Jan 2015

In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's Table Happy New Year to you all! I hope that you all had a wonderful time over the festive season and have set some achievable intentions for the coming year. It’s always good to have goals, right? In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's TableI (together with several others) received THE most brilliant gift over the holidays – a sachet of dried sourdough starter from Celia. For those of you who don’t know, Celia is a prolific bread maker and has the most wonderful sourdough starter called Priscilla. As in Priscilla, Queen of the Refrigerator! When Celia offered to send me some, I was quite beside myself with excitement – I have always wanted to have a go making a starter but was put off by how long it took to get one going. In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's TableIn anticipation, I pulled out my two bread baking  books to read up on the history, methods and recipes and before I knew it, an envelope covered in colourful Australian stamps landed on the doormat – I could not get to it fast enough! So holiday food aside, this is what has been going on in my kitchen.

Several types of bread making flours have been purchased. White bread flour, organic spelt flour, organic rye flour, organic white bread flour and organic wholemeal bread flour…

The flours have been decanted into large air tight jars which are awaiting the new chalkboard stickers. A few years ago, I had a kitchen with a terrible damp problem which rendered the cupboards useless. So I used to keep everything out on a large 4 tier steel rack. One day, I noticed a few tiny white specks on a box of cereal – when I took a closer look, I could see that EVERYTHING on the rack was covered in these tiny white bugs – I felt sick as I threw out a huge amount of food – really, waste makes me very upset. I washed and disinfected everything and all the while, I had the heebie-jeebies – honestly, it felt as if my hair was standing on end! I went straight for a shower after I finished. I also placed a large order for airtight bottles in various sizes so that I would never have to go through it again. Apparently, the bugs come into one’s home on the packaging from the shelves in the shops/storerooms/transport etc.

I’ve named my starter Twinkle as she’s just so shiny and bubbly and I love anything with a sparkle. Twinkle came to life much to the delight of Celia, who followed, encouraged and cooed via our Twitter conversations. In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's Table In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's TableThis was my first loaf with Twinkle *chest swells with pride* I have been using Celia’s method and half the recipe from her Overnight Sourdough Tutorial.

Then I tried a 50% spelt loaf and also a 50% wholemeal loaf. The spelt loaf was quite heavy but still really tasty. The wholemeal loaf was sensational!

There is always left over starter from all the feeding so I made sourdough pancakes. I added cinnamon to Celia’s recipe and also made a fresh blueberry compote to go with them.

While a lidded pot isn’t essential, it does give the loaf a great shape. I’ve been using my 26 cm oval Le Creuset but the high heat has been staining the enamel which I’m not particularly happy about, considering how much those babies cost. So I’ve bought a 30 cm Lidded Enamel Oval Roaster. It’s only just arrived so I haven’t had a chance to use it but I know that it is what Celia uses for her breads. It will stain from the heat but I’m not going to mind as it’s less than a tenth of the cost of my beloved Le Creuset!

I’ve dried some of the left over Twinkle and revived her to make sure she worked and she did. I shall be spreading the love and sending out sachets to a few of my friends as well as keeping some as a back up in case of a starter-disaster!

Well, that is it from my kitchen – huge thanks to the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is so inspiring!  Make yourself a cuppa and have a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked her post to  her blog name so click on it and take a little tour! Have a wonderful January, everyone!

In My Kitchen – December 2014

I was MIA from this series last month, but it’s been a busy couple of months in my kitchen – come and take a look..

In My Kitchen December 2014 | Selma's Table

Blue and White serving dishes

In my kitchen, I have scored some bargains! I love scouring charity and thrift shops for tableware – most of the time there is nothing but sometimes, there be gold… The first two dishes in the top row,  I spotted locally for a grand sum of £4 and the last one I found on eBay – starting price £1.99 and no one else bid!

In My Kitchen December 2014 | Selma's Table

Silver servers

Another eBay find – I was looking for salad servers and came across these, being sold as a pair of salad servers. Obviously they aren’t – I think that they are most probably cake or pie servers – what do you think? Both are silver plate from the 1920’s, the ivory handle is bone and the brown handle is bakelite. Again, no-one bid for them so I got the pair for the starting price of £3.99! I just love the detail on them.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Elaine of foodbod’s spice blends

In my kitchen, I’ve had some incredibly generous gifts from my fellow bloggers. Elaine of foodbod sent  me a a selection of her homemade spice blends. I recently used her foodbod #1 blend in scrambled eggs, which turned out quite delicious!

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Tina of Madamoiselle Gourmande’s cutlery wrap

Then, Tina of Mademoiselle Gourmande sent me the most stylish cutlery wrap (for picnics, said her note!) which she made herself. Isn’t it lovely? What a thoughtful and clever thing to make and send me – I am very touched.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's TableI’ve been sent some wonderful Tetley’s Green Tea to try out – I had no idea how involved the whole process of tea blending is. I’ve written a post about it with information that is sure to surprise you! These green teas are just lovely – for me, the trick is not to let the teabags steep for too long otherwise the resultant tea is just too bitter. The fruity Peach and Apricot Green Tea is also fantastic for steeping dried fruit for bakes and the Mint is very refreshing.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar and Wookey Hole Goats Cheese

Elaine and I went to the BBC Good Food Show as guests of Barber’s 1833, England’s oldest cheesemaker who use live cultures to make their cheeses.  I’ve written a post about their cheese making process which is steeped in history and tradition; their fabulous cheese which can be bought in Australia as well as the States and really shouldn’t be missed if you get the opportunity to get your hands on some.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Holy Lama Spice Drops

While we were at the show, I picked up a few things – of course! These Spice Drops were actually samples from the press room (we had press passes – swanky or what?). The Mulled Wine is very nice in a cuppa and I am looking forward to using the cardamom in baking and in rice too.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Lime Leaves

I bought a bag full of lime leaves – the dried ones – which are just so lovely in any Thai style dish, especially anything with coconut or shellfish in it. I pull out the central rib or stem and finely slice the leaves before stirring them in to the sauce to simmer and impart that gorgeous perfume.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Dakos from the Olive Branch

I also stopped by the Olive Branch stand to say hello and got my hands on a bag of Dakos – these are the hard rye biscuits that Ottolenghi loves and uses in his salads.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Win a copy of Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Speaking of Ottolenghi, I’ve been sent a copy of his eagerly awaited and much coveted book, Plenty More for one of my readers to win. It is full of the most wonderful recipes; inventive and so full of flavour that you don’t even realise that they’re vegetarian.  The competition ends on Tuesday Dec 09  – take a look at the post for more details on how to enter the draw.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Dried Limes

One of the ingredients Ottolenghi uses is dried limes – you cook them whole in sauces where they lend and musky deep lime flavour to the dish. I found a bagful in my local Mediterranean shop and I just wish you could smell them – absolutely gorgeous. I can see how Jo Malone was inspired to come up with the fragrance for her iconic Lime Basil and Mandarin Cologne, to which I am addicted!

In My Kitchen December 2014 | Selma's Table

Vietnamese Cinnamon

In my kitchen and very appropriate for this time of year, I have a large bottle of Cinnamon – and this is one of my favourites. It just has such a lovely flavour. I stock up on it whenever I see it at TK Maxx as I do get through quite a bit with all the baking I do.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's TableIn my healing kitchen…..I may have arthritis in my ankle – I will find out next week what the results of all the tests and scans are but in the meantime, I have taken matters into my own hands to effect a cure. Years ago, I was told that drinking a mug of hot water into which had been stirred a spoonful of organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) and a little honey was a fantastic remedy for arthritis. In those days, my finger joints used to get achy especially if the weather was changing. I started to drink a mug of this every morning and I have never suffered from achy fingers since. Even Ralph Fiennes, the intrepid explorer, champions this drink. I did stop drinking this at some point but the minute I heard that my foot may be affected, I hunted down a bottle of organic ACV and have started to drink this again.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

In Wholefoods the other day, they had some fresh turmeric root in which I bought. This is meant to be an anti-inflammatory and since my ankle has been swelling up as well as aching I’ve been making Turmeric Tea which consists of 1 tsp of grated turmeric root and 1 tsp of grated ginger simmered in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Strained into a cup with a little honey and a splash of ACV, it is actually really delicious! And it has done an incredible job in keeping the swelling down. My fingernails look like I smoke 4 packs a day – grating turmeric will do that but it is well worth it!

A little round up of some of the food I’ve made, remembered to snap but haven’t blogged….I made some delicious spicy Butter Beans – recipe on Instagram if you are interested!  I bought a happy chicken from our local Streatham Farmer’s Market and we had it simply, stuffed with thyme and lemon and roasted surrounded by potatoes and garlic – a recipe of sorts is on Instagram – good ingredients just need to be cooked simply to let their flavours shine. These mussels are a bit of a favourite – cook the spaghetti for a couple of minutes less than you would normally and let it finish cooking in the mussel juices. I used some Elaine’s  Creole blend to spice it up and they were delicious! I made a dairy and egg free chocolate cake but didn’t like the texture enough to blog about it – this one needs some tinkering but doesn’t it look gorgeous?! A lovely way to enjoy tomatoes at this time of year, is to slow roast them so that their tomato flavour intensifies. I made a second batch the other day for sandwiches and salads – they are gorgeous in a toasted cheese too!

Well, that is it from my kitchen – huge thanks to the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is so inspiring!  Make yourself a cuppa and have a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked her post to  her blog name so click on it and take a little tour!

Have a wonderful December, everyone!

 

In My Kitchen – October 2014

In My Kitchen Oct 2014 | Selma's TableIn my kitchen, I have cheese. One of my favourite cheese stalls in London’s Borough Market, is Une Normade a Londres. Run by two brothers from Normandy, these boys really know their cheese. This time I came away with a little rondel of Pérail de Brebis, a ewe’s milk cheese  – seriously savoury and creamy from Aveyron in the Mid Pyrenees in France. The land the sheep graze on is rich in floral growth and this is very evident in the mellow but rich flavour of this cheese. In My Kitchen Oct 2014 | Selma's TableThe enormous variety of goats cheeses they have on display is something to behold – they always have plenty of cheese available to sample – if you are in the area, drop by and see what takes your fancy – I don’t think you will come away empty handed! In My Kitchen Oct 2014 | Selma's TableIn my kitchen I have this award winning, liquid gold, which I was sent to sample, from Olive Branch, a company specialising in Greek produce. Olive Branch’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is cold pressed using only Cretan Koroneiki olives, which makes it a single varietal EVOO. It’s quite floral – more grassy and fruity than peppery though there is little bite of pepperiness towards the end. In My Kitchen Oct 2014 | Selma's TableOlive Branch work with a the local co-op as well as neighbouring farmers to partially produce this low acidity (0.3%) EVOO on their farm. Using early ripening olives and cold pressing them within hours of harvest also ensures that the oil is fresh, aromatic and full of nutrients and anti-oxidants. It is absolutely gorgeous – just look at that stunning colour! It has been wonderful on the last of the flavourful summer tomatoes and drizzled over pasta too. In My Kitchen Oct 2014 | Selma's TableI made a lovely salad with sliced fennel, cherry tomatoes, black grapes, walnuts and bee pollen (the bee pollen featured in my September IMK post)  and this oil was the perfect complement to it.

Greek Inspired Roast Chicken with Bread | Selma's Table

Greek Inspired Roast Chicken with Bread

I also made a Green Inspired Roast Chicken with Bread which was delicious with their oil. Do try the oil if you get the chance – it makes a lovely addition to the peppery EVOO that we are more used to. A little tidbit for you – they supply Ottolenghi with Dakos, that crispy bread he is so fond of! In My Kitchen Oct 2014 | Selma's TableSpeaking of Ottolenghi, I was completely overexcited to receive my copy of the long awaited Plenty More. I have made the wonderful tomato and pomegranate salad, the slow cooked chickpeas, the sweet and sour leeks with goats cheese and the corn fritters – all have been delicious!! The book is divided into chapters by method (Tossed, Steamed, Blanched, Braised, Mashed, Grilled etc…) and is vegetarian but you wouldn’t even notice. Nonetheless, there are plenty of suggestions for the carnivore too. Desperately hoping that he returns to London (he is in Australia on his book tour) with a few more dates for book signings… In My Kitchen Oct 2014 | Selma's Table In my kitchen, Jake cooked dinner – the first time in a long while. He gets invited to dinner at least once a week where he and his friends do the cooking. At least that is what I think is going on! A few times, I have called him and he is in Sainsburys with one or two of his friends, buying groceries to make dinner with. I can’t hear the tell tale sound of clinking bottles in the basket….Anyway, he announced that he was going to cook dinner – he made this delicious pasta dish, sautéing onions and garlic and adding sundried tomatoes, left over roast chicken, a pinch of smoky paprika and some creme fraiche. The pasta was perfectly al dente too. I was so impressed.

In my kitchen there were fancy, schmancy cupcakes because Jake turned 17. For the past few years, I either take him and a couple of his friends out for dinner or a group of us go out – this year, one of his friends threw him a surprise party. We spun him a tale and made him believe that I was taking him and this friend out to lunch and that afterwards they were going to go to the park and maybe meet up with a couple of friends (because “everyone is away”). I bailed at the last minute, but made him take the Ambassador Cupcakes that I had made in case anyone turned up to the park. He didn’t suspect a thing and got such a surprise when he got to his friend’s house and found everyone there!! I made the cupcakes the night before and the icing, early in the morning. I took him up one hastily and hideously iced and assembled cake with a candle in it, all his birthday cards and his present. Then I watched some icing videos on YouTube and iced the rest in a slightly more professional manner!! The recipe for these Ambassador or Double Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes with Nutella Icing is on the blog – they went down a treat! In My Kitchen Oct 2014 | Selma's Table In my kitchen, I have Lurpak’s Cook’s Range. I was sent a couple of packs of ‘Baking‘ of and a bottle of ‘Cooking Liquid‘. ‘Baking’ is simply amazing for baking and icing – a blend of butter and rapeseed (canola) oil, it is soft from the fridge so that within a few seconds of beating it looks like this – In My Kitchen Oct 2014 | Selma's TableI used ‘Baking’ to make the Nutella icing for the Double Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes and also used some to make my Carrot and Apple Cake Cheesecake (more about that later) and I think it is pretty amazing. I’ve used the ‘Cooking Liquid’ which is also a blend of butter and rapeseed oil, to sauté onions and brown meat – it does the job brilliantly. There is also a mist and a clarified butter in the range which I would love to try. I have been very impressed with both the products. If you bake a lot, Baking would be a great asset in the kitchen. Lots of recipes on their website as well as a very clever shopping tool which links to your on-line grocery store! In My Kitchen Oct 2014 | Selma's TableIn my kitchen I made a Carrot & Apple Cake Cheesecake. My friend Rupert, was hosting a Coffee Morning fundraiser for Macmillan and asked me to help – not that I did much other than bake this cake and bank the money raised. In true Rupert fashion, there was a mouthwatering array of hot and cold savoury bites, Bucks Fizz  in Vera Wang crystal flutes and Jasmine tea in a Coalport tea service. There was no selling of anything, just very generous donations from everyone instead – it was lovely and so much fun! He raised a good sum of money too, which was the whole point! The recipe for the Carrot & Apple Cake Cheesecake is now on the blog.

Well, that is it from my kitchen – huge thanks to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is quite the eye opener sometimes!  Pour yourself a drink and take a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked the page to  her blog name so click on it and take a little tour! Have a wonderful October, everyone!

In My Kitchen July 2014

It has been a wonderful month for all things food related – do come in and  take a look… In my kitchen IMK_july_2014is this amazing Black Summer Truffle Pesto by Sacla. My lovely, vivacious and gorgeous friend, Jo Picard, sent me a totally unexpected text saying that there were two complimentary tickets for me at the box office for the foodie heaven that is Taste of London. She was presenting and hosting the Stubbins Kitchen Garden Demonstration stand and  my friend C and I, got to see her taking Michelin starred chef, Bruno Loubet through his dish of Savoury Sweet Potato Waffle which was pretty amazing. The top left photo below is of Bruno Loubet with Jo on the far right of the photo. IMK July 2014In a nutshell, Taste of London gathers together some of London’s most iconic and famous restaurants and gives us the opportunity to taste sample sized portions of a few of their most well known dishes. Along with the restaurant stands, there are workshops, cookery theatres, artisanal produce and producers, wine tastings, drinks stands, a bandstand…it’s a fabulous event. I have linked their website so do take a look if you would like to know more. IMK July 2014 IMK July 2014Sacla were there too, passing round samples of some of their pestos spread onto mini crostinis. This one – the Black Summer Truffle Pesto just made us stop dead in our tracks, widen our eyes and rush back to find out what it was. We made sure not to leave without going back to buy some. It is wonderful spread on sourdough and topped with a poached egg and we had it with roast chicken the other day – I will posting that recipe very soon – it was fantastic. If you like truffles, you will love this spread so keep an eye out for it the next time you are in the shops. (Finally managed to post the recipe – here is the link – https://selmastable.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chicken/ ) IMK July 2014 In my kitchen, are compotes. With the abundance of luscious summer fruit comes the propensity to buy more than we can consume before they start to spoil in the heat. So, I have been making simple rustic compotes to spoon over granola and Greek yoghurt for breakfast. The compotes seem to keep for weeks in the fridge without spoiling. I stew them gently and briefly in a pan with a tiny bit of demerara sugar, some used vanilla pods  and a dash of rosé wine. In the collage above, clockwise from top left is apricot, raspberry and strawberry. Jake has liked the strawberry the most. IMK_july_2014 The cherries this summer have been amazing – these barely lasted a day. (If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen quite a few of these photos already). The shallow  bowl is an old eBay bargain – it’s known as transferware and the pattern is Asiatic Pheasant.IMK_july_2014 My Sutton Community Farm veg (CSA) box has been wonderful – gorgeous broad broad beans, all sorts of varieties of kale and beautiful salads with edible flowers as well as courgettes, cucumbers, carrots, spring onions…I was lucky enough to attend their fabulous “Pop-Up Veg Box Dinner” during our local Food Festival. You can read my review, watch a brilliant, short video and see my quick and easy recipe for Broad Bean, Pea and Ricotta Crostini if you click on the link. I recently made Ottolenghi’s Meatballs with Broad Beans, but used the entire bean – pod and all as they were so young and tender. IMK_july_2014Shortly after we moved in here, earlier this year, I lent my juicer to a friend who was a little run down. She and her husband loved it and now have their own, so she dropped it back the other day and it has been really nice to juice again for breakfast. In the glass above is apple, beetroot, kale, carrot, ginger and lemon. Power breakfast! I have to say that this is a really good juicer  – it has been developed for Philips by the man known as the Juice Master, Jason Vale. The drop chute is really wide so most things don’t have to be sliced (or peeled for that matter). The micro mesh filter is extremely efficient and easy to clean; also, if you line the pulp container with a plastic bag, it makes for a quick and easy clean up. I got this last year; there are newer models around so if you are thinking of getting a juicer but have been put off by memories of lots of prep, wet pulp and washing up, I am here to tell you that times have changed! And see the retro straws? I just couldn’t resist them when I saw them in Peter Jones and good thing too as I have just had my teeth cleaned and polished so the straws protect  from beetroot stains and acid erosion too. And they look rather fabulous! Shallow? Moi? Well, that is it from my kitchen this month.What have you been up to? Let me know via the comments box below. The In My Kitchen series is is hosted by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial where she is joined by bloggers from all over the world affording us a glimpse of what they’ve been up to. Many thanks to Celia for hosting this lovely series. Pour yourself a cuppa or something cold, click on the link and take a look at what others have been up to in their kitchens! © Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In My Kitchen – June 2014

in-my-kitchen-june-2014At last! June with it’s promise of long sunny days, picnics, barbecues, days out at the seaside and lots of spanking fresh summer produce. The festival season has started and the big thing now is music festivals with fabulous food too; also horse racing and of course the start of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships – oh summer, how we have waited for you.

This month, my kitchen has been full of, among other things,  gorgeous fresh British produce – here, take a look…

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Oven roasted British asparagus finished with parmesan and olive oil

In my kitchen I have British asparagus, which this year have been wonderful – I like to either griddle them or oven roast them and serve very simply with a drizzle of olive oil, some shavings of parmesan and perhaps a squeeze of lemon. The other night we even ate some sprue raw with a dip at a local pop up dinner event put on by Sutton Community Farm for our local food festival. The raw sprue were spectacular.

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Jersey Royal potatoes

In my kitchen, I have Jersey Royal Potatoes. May/June is also  when the incomparable Jersey Royal potatoes are available. They have only been growing for about 130 years on the island of Jersey and have a Protected Designation of Origin. These kidney shaped tubers with their papery skins are fertilised with seaweed for a really unique and delicate flavour. There are only 20 farmers who cultivate and harvest this eagerly awaited potato and the we love the first few bags, simply boiled with a little salt and butter to finish them off – this really allows their unique flavour to shine. They also make the best potato salad…The history of how they were discovered is fascinating too – http://www.jerseyroyals.co.uk/about-jersey-royals/history.aspx

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Red spring onions from my Sutton Community Farm veg box

In my kitchen, I had some of these red spring onions in my veg box which were wonderful in a potato salad. I have also had broad beans, yellow stalked chard, spring carrots and celeriac. This is when the veg box becomes really exciting!!

in-my-kitchen-june-2014In my kitchen I’ve had these beautiful peonies brought over by a friend who came to tea. Peonies (and Casablanca lilies) are my favourite flowers – thank goodness for friends who know me so well! And I thought you might enjoy a photo of those Landscape bowls with the late afternoon sun shining through then…

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In my kitchen I have  the Konditor and Cook by Gerhard Jenne of the gorgeous bakery/cafes in London. I won it (yes, again with winning cookbooks), this time from the lovely people at The Happy Foodie  for my Easter themed Pinterest board. I wasn’t the winner but had an email saying that they liked my board so much that they wanted to send me something and this beautiful book arrived . Konditor and Cook have five shops stocking their legendary cakes and pastries as well as 2 schools in London.

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This is an artisan book – beautiful and well crafted recipes that are made with love and care. I can’t wait to try some of these out and share them with you. If you enjoy cooking and baking, I suggest that you sign up for the Happy Foodie’s newsletter – it is always full of inspirational recipes and stories. You can buy the book using this link  http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/the-konditor-and-cook-book-of-cakes/9780091957599 and it is also available on Amazon UK.  This is Amazon’s  biography of Gerhard Jenne – “I was practically born with a spoonful of Black Forest Cake in my mouth. And from my birthplace, Freiburg the gateway to the Black Forest, I progressed via licking out my mother’s baking bowls and completing an apprenticeship in my brother-in-law’s bakery to an even sweeter career as a Konditor (pastry chef). At first in Munich then in London where I made a name for myself as a celebrity cake maker – for real aristocracy as well as rock royalty.  With Konditor & Cook I was able to create my own set of recipes and contemporary decorative styles and soon the first shop on London’s South Bank was so popular, someone once said: ‘Every street corner should have a Konditor & Cook on it.” Who wouldn’t want to be born with a spoonful of Black Forest Cake in their mouth?!

In my kitchen I have The French Cafe Cookbook, sent over by a friend in New Zealand.

in-my-kitchen-june-2014With gorgeous photography and a very inspirational story charting the journey of the chef and his wife to their popular restaurant in Auckland.

in-my-kitchen-june-2014in-my-kitchen-june-2014This is the sort of book from which to learn restaurant cooking techniques and adapt them for home use.

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Home made lemon oil

I though that I would update you on my home made lemon oil. It has been steeping for nearly 3 weeks now and the lemon flavour is really coming through. A few of you including Celia, have either commented or tweeted that you have started your jars and I hope that you have remembered to open the lids and release the gas from time to time. It is a very simple recipe – unwaxed lemons in a sterilised jar topped up with a mild olive oil and steeped for at least 4 weeks in a cupboard. The original post is here.

Well, that is it from my kitchen this month.What have you been up to? Let me know via the comments box below.

The In My Kitchen series is is hosted by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial where she is joined by bloggers from all over the world affording us a glimpse of what they’ve been up to. Many thanks to Celia for hosting this lovely series. Pour yourself a cuppa, click on the link and take a look at what others have been up to in their kitchens!

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In My Kitchen – May 2014

Another month has flown by with lots of lovely produce making an appearance at the greengrocers which is always such a pleasure to see! swiss-chard-and-herb-tartIn my kitchen I have Rainbow Swiss Chard – I’ve recently discovered this vegetable and now cannot get enough of it. These beautiful leaves arrived in my vegetable box which was bursting at the seams with all sorts of goodies. I made a delicious Swiss Chard and Herb Tart which went down a storm. Click on the link to see the recipe if you missed it last week. in-my-kitchen-may-2014In my kitchen I have rambutans. These prehistoric looking tropical fruits are in season now and are native to Indonesia and Malaysia. I got them from a a young man who sets up trestle tables outside a shop on the high street. His produce isn’t always in the best shape but he sells bowls full of all sorts of fruit and vegetable for a £1 and I do like to support him – he is out there every day of the week no matter what the weather. Rambutans have a thick but soft shell which splits easily to reveal a large opalescent fruit with a large woody seed in the middle. The fruit looks similar to the more familiar lychee but is not quite as juicy and tastes more like a grape. These are lovely in fruit salads. in-my-kitchen-may-2014In my kitchen I have another exotic fruit – loquats,  bought from the same vendor. I buy these more for their nostalgic value than anything else as both my grandfather and great uncle had trees in their Nairobi gardens. I have fond memories of sitting outside in my great uncle’s front garden; there would be a great many aunties and cousins milling around, enjoying a gossip and a catch-up. Trays of samosas, chutney, tea, home made cakes and biscuits would appear from the kitchen, passed round as the afternoon wore on. And these loquats which my cousin brother would have climbed up the tree to shake down for us, amidst much shouting to be careful and to watch our heads! My great uncle also had some enormous ferns growing in pots and invariably, older school boys would stop at the gate and ask if they could have a couple of seed filled fronds for their classwork…they always left clutching a samosa too! These fruit are at their sweetest when very soft. Othewise they are quite tart (hello salsa!) and with their high pectin levels, are brilliant in chutneys and jams. In Japan, the dried leaves are used to brew an anti-inflammatory tea which combats eczema and asthma… in-my-kitchen-may-2014In my kitchen I have the most adorable bottle of Limoncino, a lemon zest liqueur, given to me by friend who just got back from Italy. He travels a lot for work and pleasure and I am tasked with keeping an occasional eye on his business premises. For this hardly onerous task, he rewards me with wonderful food gifts from where ever he has been. The flavour of Limoncino or as it is more commonly known, Limoncello, really depends on the quality of the fruit. This is a really good article which illustrates brilliantly the passion Italians have when it comes to their produce – http://www.capri.net/caprireview/article.php?cod=49&lang=it&tr=1

“ the lemon makes the difference … Femminiello from Massa Lubrense (oval in shape, smooth skin, very juicy) and Sfusato from Amalfi (tapered shape, large with a thick, yellow peel and almost no seeds) are … characterized by the intense aroma of essential oils that it inherits from the environment. The unique nature of these fruits depends on the microclimate, the proximity of the sea and protection from the cold winds thanks to the use of traditional pagliarelle (straw matting) covering the groves and held up with chestnut poles”  The flavour also depends on when the lemons are picked. The first blossoming lemons, picked at dawn have the most concentrated flavours. Limoncino is best sipped, near frozen, in shot glasses.

in-my-kitchen-may-2014In my kitchen I have not one but two books which I won separately! Roast is a busy restaurant in London’s Borough Market and the book is full of the most mouthwatering photos and recipes. I won this by joining a competition on FaceBook. The Creamery Kitchen has brilliant recipes on converting milk into dairy products and I can’t wait to try some of the recipes out. I won this one through a Twitter campaign! Social media does have it’s good points!!

in-my-kitchen-may-2014In my kitchen I have a delicious Japanese Green Tea with Brown Rice. As much as I adore coffee, I find that if I have one after 3 pm in the afternoon, I am unable to get to sleep until the wee hours – and I mean the wee hours – 2 or 3 in the morning! In fact, I was out for dinner the other night and asked for a decaf expresso to round off the meal. It tasted so good that I just knew it wasn’t decaf, then promptly forgot about it until I was in bed wondering why I wasn’t tired! I was introduced to this tea at a wonderful local cafe – I asked for a pot of green tea (it was 3pm!) and was asked if I would like to try the brown rice version. It tastes like popcorn, has a mild green tea flavour and is very moreish indeed. Now, my son, is a Japanophile and has been since he was 8, loves going off to Soho to buy proper Japanese Sencha tea from a little shop on Brewer Street called Arigato. Arigato is an Aladdin’s Cave of Japanese foodstuffs – fresh, packaged and prepared. They have even carved out a little space where you can sit and eat their sushi, salads, gyoza and kare-age. I happened to be passing by and was pleased to find this tea, which Jake informs me has always been there!

Well that is it from my kitchen this month.What have you been up to? Let me know via the comments box below.

In My Kitchen is is hosted by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial where she is joined by bloggers from all over the world affording us a glimpse of what they’ve been up to that month. Many thanks to Celia for hosting this series. Pour yourself a cuppa, click on the link and take a look at what others have been up to in their kitchens!

This week, I am so thrilled to be co-hosting Angie’s Friday Fiesta with Jhuls  of The Not So Creative Cook –  we would love to see you – it’s a fantastic way to read new blogs, make new friends and gain followers too! All you have to do is write a post for specifically for the party and  link up to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #15 post (you can post up until the following Wednesday) to join the party . The post can be about anything you like – food, travel, musings, photography – do join us – it is going to be so much fun! The guidelines are here… http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/ …

In My Kitchen – April 2014

 

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“Landscape” bowls by Peter Layton

I can’t quite believe that a month has rolled by so quickly and that it is time to take another look in my kitchen already!

In my kitchen I have 3 beautiful opaque bowls from the Landscape series by glass blower extraordinare, Peter Layton of London Glassblowing. They sit on the window ledge changing colour, hue and intensity depending on the time of day. Many years ago, I read that London Glassblowing were holding an open week and sale in their workshop so took my son to watch the process at their studio in Bermondsey. I remember walking through the historical old streets of Southwark with him, passing by narrow streets with names like Vinegar Yard, Lamb Walk and Crucifix Street. Where once, as far back as medieval times, the area was known for it’s flourishing docks, leather and food processing industries and later, for it’s slums, now the old brick warehouses hold thriving creative and retail studios. When I finally found it because I did get lost (this was in the days of the London A-Z, waaaay before smartphones and GPS ) we found ourselves in a cobbled courtyard  surrounded on all sides by old industrial units. When we located the studio, the contrast between their gallery; sleek and white with the displayed glass objects glowing like jewels and the workshop; hot as Hades, chaotic and with a true industrial vibe, well, it couldn’t have been more stark or wonderful. We watched great globs of liquid glass being blown and pulled and pushed into gorgeous organic shapes by artisans working next to the blistering furnace – Jake was fascinated. Even as his cheeks started to flush and his hair began to dampen and curl with sweat, he did not want to move. We went again with a dear friend, this time armed with my cheque book! On their  huge sale table were all sorts of wonderful glass bowls, vases, bottles and trinkets but I was drawn to these three bowls – I almost think that they chose me. The design is described thus on their website – “Landscape is one of our classic designs, evocative of meadows, spring landscapes and big skies, sometimes stormy, sometimes clear and bright in the English tradition. Soft gentle washes of colour, emulate the English landscape.” If you click on the photo, you will be able to see them enlarged and in more detail. They have been packed away for some years, through numerous moves, but seem to have now found their home on the window ledge in my kitchen.

fresh_garlic

In my kitchen I have fresh, purple tinged heads of “new” garlic – an odiferous harbinger of spring if ever there was one! As I was walking past my local greengrocers the other day, I noticed a box of these and stopped to buy a few. They are so different from the dry garlic we normally see – their skins are moist and pliable and the cloves themselves are much less strident in flavour. Because they are so much younger and moister than dry garlic, practically the entire head can be used. The green tops can be sliced and sautéed, the skins can be sliced and stirred in with shallots or onions; the layer around the actual clove itself can be blanched and then whizzed with olive oil to make a garlic paste that can be stirred into pasta, salad dressings and mayonnaise and the cloves can be thinly sliced and sautéed or added raw to salads.

fresh_garlicNew garlic does have a fairly pungent smell. A few years ago, a group of us went to Cannobio on the shores of Lago Maggiore in Italy for a hen weekend. We had such a brilliant time, exploring the town, eating gelato, drinking bubbly on the terrace of the boys’  apartment (it was a mixed party!) dancing in the town square with the locals, heading over to Switzerland on the ferry, for lunch, just because we could! There was a big market on that weekend and we had the most incredible lunch in a bustling trattoria where all the specials were market fresh. The mushroom pasta with truffles, I have never forgotten. I got a little excited to see fresh garlic (for the first time ever) and bought a few heads to take home. The smell of garlic was so pervasive – and I took it on as hand luggage so you can just imagine the wide berth I got! I always buy some whenever I see them and am instantly transported to those fun filled few days in Italy.

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In my kitchen, I have (had – they are all gone now) a little plate of tiny figs. Passing by the same greengrocer the other day, I noticed a punnet of these figs which were no larger than walnuts in the shell. They were very sweet with an almost rose flavour and we had them without any adornment whatsoever. I thought I had taken some shots of one squeezed open but they either didn’t upload or I had what my brother used to refer to as, a senior moment!

baby_leeks

In my kitchen I have these gloriously muddy, young and slender leeks. I got very excited about my new veg box (CSA) from Sutton Community Farm last month. You may have seen the post about the Mixed Roasted Beets where I waxed lyrical about the scheme. I am getting a small box every fortnight and really enjoying the quality and freshness of the produce with the bonus of it being a cheaper price than in the supermarkets. It is also forcing me out of my comfort zone of always buying the same vegetables which I tend to do if there is nothing inspiring on the shelves. These babies will be blanched then griddled and served with an smokey paprika aioli.

dry_roasted_cumin

In my kitchen I have a small jar of dry roasted cumin seeds. I love the warm, deep, husky flavour of cumin and use it quite liberally and in fairly unorthodox ways. One of my comfort dishes is rice cooked with chickpeas and cumin and eaten with yoghurt. I buy 100g  or 200g packets from the local Indian grocers and dry roast them, in batches, over a medium heat, in  a non stick pan until they are golden and toasted and the kitchen smells amazing. I store them in a small Kilner jar where they keep for a long time. I scatter them whole, rub them between my fingers to break them up or pound them to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Speaking of which…

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In my kitchen I have a ridiculously heavy pestle and mortar. I bought it in the early 90’s when our High St used to have the most brilliant Oriental grocery shop. They stocked everything you could possibly think of –  galangal, lemongrass, holy basil,  fresh noodles, about a hundred varieties of dry noodles, rice, all sorts of sauces from chili to satay, frozen seafood, bamboo steamers…it was like an Aladdin’s cave of Oriental foodstuff in there. This is when I started cooking Thai food – how could I not when all the ingredients were literally on my doorstep! I went past one day and noticed that they had pestle and mortars in the window and bought one. I make sure that it is somewhere accessible on the worktop as I realised that I don’t use as much it if I have to lug it out of a cupboard or off a shelf. It makes short work of grinding dry spices and making pastes out herbs and garlic. I just wish it wasn’t so darn heavy!

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Well that’s it from my kitchen this month. In My Kitchen is is hosted by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial where she is joined by bloggers from all over the world affording us a glimpse of what they’ve been up to that month. I have been following the series for a little while now, enjoying a little nosey into the kitchen sink dramas of others, everywhere. Thank you to the IMK community for your warm welcome  to my first posting last month – it has been so nice to get to know you and your blogs. And a huge thank you to Celia for coming up with this series and hosting it. This is the link to take you to the archives http://figjamandlimecordial.com/in-my-kitchen/ Please do go over and take a look at what other bloggers are up to in their kitchens!

 

In My Kitchen – March 2014

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In My Kitchen is is hosted by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial where she is joined by bloggers from all over the world affording us a glimpse of what they’ve been up to that month. I have been following (silently – sorry Ceila!) the series for a little while now, enjoying a little nosey into the kitchen sink dramas of others, everywhere. Well, I am taking the plunge today and  giving you a peek  into my kitchen, in what I hope will be a regular monthly post.

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In my kitchen, I have two, much loved, Le Creuset cast iron, ridiculously heavy pans. Many years ago we had an old, romantic, overgrown Victorian garden. It was a magnificent garden, in which we discovered a covered-up-with-years-and-years-worth-of-leaves-and-twigs, big rectangular pond complete with a fountain, which was overhung by a beautiful weeping willow tree – the source of much of the muck. A couple of weekends were spent clearing it out, fixing the fountain and filling it up with water, koi and aquatic plants. The garden was also full of all sorts of fruit trees – apple, pear, walnut, plum and cherry – it really was a magical place. One year we harvested more plums than we could eat so I decided to make a chutney. I took out my large, old faithful Le Creuset dutch oven and proceeded with the recipe. I left it burbling gently on the hob, wandered into the garden to skim leaves off the surface of the pond and got chatting to our neighbour who convivially produced a glass or two of wine. By the time I got back into the kitchen, the chutney had cooked down and burnt to a cinder- the sugar had carbonised and was welded to the bottom of the pot completely destroying my beloved Le Creuset. No amount of scrubbing, soaking, or scraping over the next few weeks could lift off that burnt-on mess. I shed tears throwing out Old Faithful. I was overjoyed to receive a new one as a gift the following Christmas, and have since acquired a smaller oval one — but I have never made a chutney again!

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In my kitchen I have a handmade utility knife from the Japanese Knife Company. It is completely handmade by a small group of highly skilled artisan nokaji whose skills have been passed down for 4 generations. It is my favourite kitchen tool. I bought it 17 years ago it from a very knowledgeable elderly gentleman  at a food show, who really impressed me with his calm and serene manner. I  have remembered him often and have never forgotten how he thinly and quickly pared an apple using only a simple little paring knife. Twelve years later, I attended a knife skills course and was surprised and delighted to find that he was teaching it. In the literature that they give you before starting the course, we were asked to bring in our knives so that we could learn how to use them properly and also have them sharpened. When I handed him mine, he recognized it immediately (despite the fact that it has no markings on it anywhere) and even knew the Japanese artisan who had made it – how amazing is that?!

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In my kitchen I have sourdough bread, handmade by Duncan, who cycles over to me every week, to drop off one of his artisan loaves of bread. Last summer, I volunteered to help out at our local Food Festival and met some wonderful local people and producers as well as the talented husband and wife team behind The Elephant Bakehouse. They ran a tasting workshop as well as a stall and I am happy to say that the stall sold out well before the festival was over. They produce the most delicious varieties of artisan sourdough bread using local (as much as possible)  organic flour.The flavours are complex and the texture dense, chewy and so, so satisfying – no comparison can be made to the flabby mass produced sliced loaves which have never been touched by human hand. Duncan makes the bread himself and his wife looks after the rest of the business – they are both really passionate about their bread and with every reason. They are in the process of securing local premises from which to start baking for the greater community. My son takes two slices, toasted, spread with peanut butter and carefully wrapped in tinfoil on his way out the door in the morning, to eat on his way to school.

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In my kitchen I have a jar of pretty pink beetroot sea salt. In October, I visited Cape Town, staying with close friends. I had an amazing time, visiting lots of fabulous restaurants and shops. One of the places that Alex took me to was Babylonstoren. It describes itself as a Cape Dutch Farm with vineyards and orchards surrounded by the mountains of the Drakenstein Valley. It is a stunning working organic farm with fabulous restaurants, shops, a spa and tastefully furnished whitewashed cottages for guests to stay in.

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1. Gorgeous chickens running free
2. The Drakenstein Mountains
3. Babelstoren

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1. Beautifully presented salad and sandwich at The Greenhouse
2. The cured meat room in the Farm Shop Barn
3. A view of the gardens

It oozes style, charm, beauty and character everywhere you look and no wonder as it is owned by Karen Roos who used to be the editor of the South African edition of Elle Decoration. We met up with a friend of his, Simon, who is a passionate and knowledgeable gardener. It didn’t surprise me to hear that no expense had been spared to make Babylonstoren what it is today. The “Farm Shop”,  unlike anything you have seen before, is housed in a series of rooms in one of the barns from where I came away with this stunning beetroot sea salt. I love pinching some over a buffalo mozzarella and watching the pretty pink colour stain the milky white cheese.

in_my_kitchen_march_13In my kitchen I have a jar of delicious home made jam. As I don’t make chutneys or jams, I am always grateful to receive homemade versions from friends. My friends from Cape Town visited London just before Christmas and brought me a jar of this amazing Plum, Chilli and Cherry Jam which Rob had made. It is fabulous with goat’s cheese. Don’t you just love the adorable jar with the chalkboard label?

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In my kitchen I have fridge magnets. Not any old magnets, mind but words with which to compose all sorts of messages. I love these because they are food related. They have been packed away and then in storage for quite a few years so it has been a delight to get them out again.

in_my_kitchen_march_13This is what my son put up on the fridge the other day – should I be worried?

Well that’s it for this month. Many thanks to Celia for coming up with this series and hosting it. This is the link to take you to the archives http://figjamandlimecordial.com/in-my-kitchen/ Please do go over and look at what other bloggers are up to in their kitchens!