The rest of Jo’s birthday weekend went well, besides my snuffliness. We had a delicious meal at Ode and then the following night we had another delicious meal at the Riverford Field Kitchen with Jo’s family. The Riverford Field Kitchen meal was a new experience – a set starter and main and then a selection of puddings for dessert, from which you could chose one large dessert or two smaller desserts – I chose the latter. The meal was eaten at large communal tables which were shared with other guests.
Although further running was out of the question on account of my cold, we did manage a session at Adrenalin in Plymouth, followed by lunch at the Whowouldhavethoughtit. a well known pub which I remember from my days living in Plymouth. In addition to having a cold on Jo’s birthday weekend, my health in general has been a bit hit and miss over the last few weeks. My stomach has been quite painful again, which has meant that running has been quite limited. This has been quite frustrating, given that we have our first OCR event coming up soon. We have managed to start cycling again, which is not quite the training we need for OCR events, but I guess it is still keeping us quite fit.
Anyway, enough about my life in general. Let me try to think what has been going on in the kitchen over the last few weeks. I had to make 10 sandwiches with various fillings for one of our customers as a special lunch order. This isn’t really important in itself, other than the customer told me that the sandwiches were absolutely delicious. I can’t take full credit as although I made the sandwiches, it was the Head Chef who came up with the different fillings.
My dabbling in veganism, so to speak, continues. The Head Chef asked me to see whether I could make our ginger cake vegan. In my first attempt, I combined a couple of recipes to come up with a vegan stem ginger cake, but it lacked the rich flavour of our original ginger cake. The Head Chef, who is much more embracing of experimenting suggested that I just adapted the original recipe, so I substituted butter with Trex, cow’s milk with oat milk and eggs with a mixture of baking powder, water and oil. The end result was a ginger cake, which tastes almost exactly the same as the original. A success, me thinks. I have posted the new and improved recipe for you to try.
Having run out of 70 percent plus dark chocolate for our vegan cookies, the Head Chef suggested that we given the vegan cookies a break for a while and instead make some cookies for the kids during half term – he suggested a combination of M&Ms and marshmallows. So armed with my go to Donna Hay recipe, I tried the Head Chef’s suggestion, slightly concerned that when placed in a hot oven the marshmallows would melt completely and result in a gooey mess. My concerns were not completely unfounded, as rather than having 24 round and even looking cookies after baking, instead I had rather spread out, inconsistent and gooey cookies, which could not be sold to customers in their current state. Slightly disheartened, but not put off completely and armed with a round cookie cutter, I cut out cookies from the molten mess, hoping that when the dough cooled that all would be okay. I devotedly placed the cooled cookies in containers, crossing my fingers that after a final taste test the following morning that they could go on sale. The alternative would be to make some fresh cookies, which would have been time consuming and also a waste of the ingredients in the cookies. Luckily, despite being rather flatter than normal and with uniform edges from being ‘cut out’ from the cooked cookie dough, the cafe manager confirmed that they were fit for human consumption and that, in fact, she really liked their taste and chewy consistency. I happy mistake perhaps, but one I am not sure I am planning on repeating.
Speaking of mistakes, I made an unhappy mistake in the kitchen the other day. Inspired by the mini doughnuts on top of a cake which the cafe manager made recently (she makes the most exotic cakes in her spare time for special events), I bought a couple of doughnut trays to try baked doughnuts. Authorised by the Head Chef to make the doughnuts, I gave them a shot. However time pressure and a batter in which the melted butter solidified slightly when added to the cold ingredients, resulting in a slightly lumpy batter and subsequent overworking to remove the lumps, meant that the resultant doughnuts were too chewy and hence not good enough for customer consumption. I think I will try them again at home when I have more time to experiment.
On the topic of authorisation and already armed with heart shaped cup cake cases and heart shaped cookie cutters, my request to make Valentine cakes and cookies was denied by the Head Chef, with the comment that it was just not Lynwood’s thing. I can’t deny I was slightly upset by his decision as I had hoped that as part of my role as developing the bakes at Lynwood & Co that I would have more of a free reign on deciding what was on the menu. I had a vision of celebrating key events during the year with special bakes. A quick scroll through Instagram on the 13th and 14th February made me slightly more heartened given that the likes of Donna Hay and Ottolenghi had made bakes to celebrate Valentine’s day. I felt that if Donna Hay and Ottolenghi thought that it was okay to indulge in Valentine’s Day, then I couldn’t have been that far off base. Armed with renewed confidence, I decided to make some Valentine cookies at home. Exhausted from a day’s work, run and domestic chores, I only had the energy to make some ‘jammie dodger’ heart shaped cookies, which in defiance I have selected as he image for this post.
On the home front, I have been trying out a few savoury dishes, as well as my first plated dessert since I left Ashburton Cookery School. I tried Nathan Outlaw’s fish pie from his book, Everyday Seafood, a Christmas present from my youngest son. I lovely looking and delicious meal. I also tried his rhubarb plated dessert, rhubarb cake, almond cream, stewed rhubarb and lemon creme fraiche, which elicited a ‘looks great’ comment from Nathan Outlaw himself on Instagram. Another delicious offering from my favourite chef.
I also tried the best stuffed mushrooms, stuffed with halloumi and pine nuts from Sabrina Gaynour’s ‘Feast’ and la3dass from Orange Blossom and Honey, which elicited this response from the chef and author, John Gregory-Smith, ‘Yummy, yummy!! Looks fab!!