Over the last couple of weeks I feel like I’ve been pretending to be a bit of a ‘foodie’. I say pretending because, although I love messing about with food and trying to cook, and I do get quite hooked on masterchef programmes, I don’t really know anything about the whole subject. I’m an impatient cook and my attitude is usually ‘meh, I’ll just guesstimate this, it’ll be alright’. And then it’s not. I always put the icing on before the cake’s cooled down enough and it took me 4 attempts to realise putting water with chocolate in the microwave does the opposite of helping the chocolate to melt nicely. I’ve also been known to put ryvita in the toaster to see what would happen. What happened was 2 neat little flames leaping out the top of the toaster.
My foodie fortnight started with baking a chocolate cake for a colleague who was leaving work. Great tip – if you want to cut a cake into layers but it’s not a very tall cake, make a shallow groove around the edge of the cake with a knife and then pull a piece of sewing thread through the cake – works a treat.
I had an impatient moment and whipped the cream too early. Later I thought I’d just give it another whip to freshen it up and ended up over-beating it, leaving a mixture of butter and liquid (yes, I’m really not a food genius). There’s not much you can do about that, but I learned that to stop it happening in the future I could add a couple of tablespoons of milk before whipping the cream (or just whip it once).
Anyway, the final thing looked and tasted great!
Then on bank holiday weekend I got cheap tickets to the Hampton Court food festival in London. It was so much more fun than expected, there were hundreds of different products made by small companies and all of them were there to be tasted – ice cream, fudge, teas, energy drinks, sauces, curries, cheeses, olives…….. I watched Paul Merrett (‘The Allotment Chef’) in the cookery theatre, went to a gin tasting with a lady who was clearly bonkers about the stuff (?!!) (www.gintime.com) and a champagne tasting. Feeling a bit light-headed I tried to focus while a Kitchen Queen took me through 4 meals in 10 minutes. By the way, if you fancy having one on one cookery lessons at your own home tailored to your needs and wants, check out their website at www.kitchenqueen.co.uk
I bought a beautiful little plate with small ceramic spikes on it, which grates down garlic, ginger root, nuts and a lot more really easily, almost creating a paste in seconds – amazing! And no cut fingers!
To top it off I found a stall selling all manner of cake baking stuff and got hooked on the idea of recreating the beautiful cupcakes they had on display. So I bought a pot of rainbow dust glitter, coloured silicone cupcake cases and a few different rice paper decorations, and got to work at home.
It was hard going, especially piping that darn butter icing. It was either too buttery and gooey, just oozing everywhere and keeping no shape, or it was too stiff and gave me pins and needles in my thumb trying to squeeze it out. Still, I’m so pleased with the results. Look at these gorgeous, colourful, sunny beauties!!
They just remind me of tea parties and happy childhood moments!
Rachel studied art at St Martin’s in London and then went to study patisserie in Paris. She now puts art and food together and creates amazing and visually stunning meals, which are more like events. More recent ventures include ‘Edible Tales’ where Rachel tells a story, often to do with a location’s history, through the food she is serving. At a retelling of the fall of the Berlin wall Rachel cooked 2 meals typical of East and West Germany and, part way through the meal, a wall went up to divide the guests in to 2 groups. If they liked the look of the other side’s food, they could barter for it. Now she’s a real foodie!
Or, if you’re like me, you can just go along to the Regent’s Park food festival (see www.tastefestivals.com/london ) and taste everything you can lay your hands on!