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!

Garlic Confit

Tomato tartines with garlic confit

Tomato tartines with garlic confit

Food matters. Where it comes from, what is in it and how it tastes. We don’t need to eat copious amounts of it neither do we need to throw away as much as we do – it is all about shopping wisely. I love finding new producers, makers and markets and when the chance came up to help with publicising our local food festival, I volunteered and I am so glad that I did. I met some wonderful local people and producers as well as the talented husband and wife team behind The Elephant Bakehouse. They ran a 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.

Scarum Mount Wholemeal Bread

Scarum Mount Wholemeal Bread from The Elephant Bakehouse

I bought a loaf of Sun and Flowers which was delicious with poached eggs from my favourite supplier at our weekly farmers market and the Sarum Mount which is a triple wholemeal. They also produce a Wellfield Rye made with white and rye flours and a Hazy Raisin.  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 having trouble finding local premises (everything they have seen has had mould issues – not great for a bakehouse as this would kill off the starter) but I am hoping that their overwhelming success at the festival is a sign that the stars are lining up for them!

Update Summer 2014 – Elephant Bakehouse have found premises in Gleneldon Mews in Streatham from where theyhave built a loyal following and can also be found at the weekly Streatham Food Market on Saturday.

Scarum Mount from The Elephant Bakehouse

Scarum Mount from The Elephant Bakehouse

We only have the Sarum Mount left and I am slicing that thinner than Fagin in order to make it last. A recent rummage on-line led me to a tomato tartine for which this gorgeous bread is the perfect vehicle. A tartine is essentially an open faced sandwich and is lovely for lunch or a light supper at this time of year.

Garlic confit

Garlic confit

The star of the show, however, is this garlic confit – spread it on a toasted slice of good bread or squash it into a salad dressing; melt it into a tomato sauce – it lends a mellow savoury depth that belies it’s origin. The resultant oil can be used where you might want a more subtle hint of garlic. It only takes about 15 – 20 minutes from start to finish, giving off a gorgeous aroma to boot.

Garlic cloves

Garlic cloves

Poke a sharp knife or a toothpick into the bases of unpeeled cloves from a couple of heads of garlic – this prevents them from exploding.

Simmering the garlic cloves

Simmering the garlic cloves

Place in a small pan with a few sprigs of rosemary and cover with olive oil and simmer for 10-20 minutes. Cool, decant into a clean jar and refrigerate. That’s it. You now have a jar of umami which will add an evocative depth to your savoury concoctions.

Variety of tomatoes from the Farmers Market

Variety of tomatoes from the Farmers Market

Tomatoes steeping in dressing

Tomatoes steeping in dressing

For the delicious tomato tartines, make a dressing using olive oil,  pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar), salt and pepper. Slice up some tomatoes and chop some herbs and let these steep in the dressing while you get on with the rest.

Garlic confit on toasted bread

Garlic confit on toasted bread

Squeeze out the soft garlic confit from its skin and slather over a couple of slices of toasted bread.

Tomatoes steeping in dressing

Tomatoes steeping in dressing

Top with the herby tangy sliced tomatoes and drizzle over some of the dressing. Pour yourself a little glass of rose and you could be in the South of France!

Tomato tartines with garlic confit

Tomato tartines with garlic confit

Garlic Confit

Barely adapted from Food52

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 heads of garlic
  • a few sprigs of rosemary
  • olive oil to cover (not virgin)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Break apart the heads of garlic and make a small slit or poke a hole into the bases of the unpeeled cloves to stop them from exploding.
  2. Place in a small pan with a few sprigs of rosemary and just cover with olive oil.
  3. Bring to a simmer and turn the heat very low, letting this putter away for 10 – 20 minutes depending on how thick the cloves are.
  4. They are ready when they yield easily to a knifepoint.
  5. Let cool and decant into a clean jar and refrigerate.

If you want to have more flavoured oil for dressings and drizzling, top up the jar with some extra virgin olive oil.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013. 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.