As the festive season fast approaches and November comes to a close, everyone is feeling the frenetic pace. Trawling through recipes, and at our ‘Simple’ cookery demo last week, I was reminded that sometimes old favourites simply need a new tweak. Those that you can do in your sleep are guaranteed to be flawless crowd-pleasers and give you more time with guests. After another year of fabulous fine dining, I plan to keep my holiday cooking just that – simple. It was with that in mind that we hosted our final Gourmet Guide cookery class.
NOMU generously sponsored their quality products for us to conjure up some decadent dishes. We began our morning of active cookery with a hummus and tahini dip topped with rows of colour (pomegranate seeds, kiwi fruit, red onion and crumbled feta) spread on a beautiful Mervyn Gers Ceramics platter. It was a showstopper, and everyone nibbled on this whilst we prepared our stuffed chicken breasts topped with NOMU dukkah. I had made my rocket pesto for the stuffing in my new toy, the KitchenAid artisanal food processor which takes the chore out of chopping. Two simple salads inspired by Ottolenghi’s new book, Simple, were the cauliflower, pomegranate and pistachio, and the couscous and tomato salads.
The simplest yet delicious chocolate brownies were created with NOMU cocoa and topped with their chocolate chips. The easiest microwave carrot cake spiced with NOMU ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, was whisked to perfection in my KitchenAid artisanal mixer. After a morning spiced with interesting info about ingredients and time-saving tips, we gathered around a table and toasted new friends who had together prepared our old favourites. Bevan Cockcroft, our talented photographer, captured some of the moments and dishes.
SET A TABLE
Last month I featured in the entertainer article in Garden & Home magazine, and shared some of my special recipes. One that I have used for many years, cemented in my head and heart, is a sesame dressing. As I paged through the spread in the mag, I suddenly realized that the source of this recipe was originally from one of Karen Dudley’s fabulous books, The Kitchen and Another Week in the Kitchen. I was mortified at the thought of publishing her recipe without giving her credit. I tried calling this busy lady, no luck, so sent her a mail of apology. It came back like her famous love sandwich, oozing warmth and abundance – Karen was thrilled that her recipes are being shared far and wide. Could we please have more talented cooks with her attitude? Jacana Media delivered a copy of her latest book, Set a Table, which is sure to top the 30 000 sales of her previous bestsellers. This time she has published her recipes in collaboration with photographer Claire Gunn (whose fan club I would be happy to run in my free time) and the results are superlative. I love that Karen covers the etiquette of being a host and a guest (a forgotten art?). I paged through the book the entire weekend, my appetite whet for cooking up a storm around a table. Be sure to read a full review, with (of course, in true Karen abundance) a few select recipes, in the autumn edition of the Gourmet Guide e-mag, available (free to download and print) in March 2019 on http://www.gourmetguide.co.za.
But better still, buy your own copy of Set a Table now. Or two, and give an everlasting gift to someone this Christmas, and they will love you forever.