Its brilliant being able to work in an area that I love but sometimes working most weekends is hard, especially for my family who do after all live here too. So it was a pleasant change to have a midweek job away from home, this time a business lunch for fifty.
Yummy Moroccan chick pea and spinach soup
This was only the second business lunch that I’d catered for so I was I admit filled with a certain amount of trepidation as well as a lot of excitement. The menu for the North Wales branch of the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens training day was simple and hearty and included lots of things that I love to prepare; seasonal soups made with locally grown vegetables, home-made bread, cheeses, fruit and lots of cakes! Very fitting seeing as some of my suppliers were actually attendees at the event. At the last-minute I discovered there were several gluten-free people and I had to include dishes for vegetarians and vegans…well i’m always happy to accommodate so I tried my best to give everyone something yummy.
I made an unexpectedly gorgeous Moroccan chick pea and spinach soup, intended for the vegans but it became the hit of the day for everyone. I also made a leek and potato soup for the traditionalists, supplied baps from the local bakery as well as some home-made oat and rye bread spread with plenty of Welsh butter. I tried my hand at gluten-free flat breads accompanied by butter bean and rosemary hummus which also appeared to get the thumbs up.
After this guests tucked into a Welsh cheese board (Dragon cheddar, Y Feni, Perl Wen and Perl Las) with oat cakes and my spiced courgette chutney plus a variety of desserts that included lemon drizzle cake, flap jacks, gluten-free chocolate brownies and baked cheese cake all topped off with some blackcurrant compote and double cream. I hoped they would like it and they did. Its lovely getting positive feedback and makes a fun job even more enjoyable.
Among the familiar faces at this North Wales networking event were plenty of people I didn’t know and it was nice to chat to a few of them and find out what they do, as well as getting the chance to take part in one of the organised workshop events..cooking home made pizza in a clay cob oven. The builder, Rik Midgley is a well-known local ceramicist who also makes cob bread ovens and pottery kilns. Some people might have seen his work at festivals across the country (his dragon a Glastonbury was quite outstanding). On this occasion he made a small single chamber bee-hive shaped oven in which a fire was built, allowed to burn for a couple of hours and then removed to make space for the food to cook. The food bakes in the heat that has built up inside the oven. The speed with which the pizza cooked was amazing…and it tasted fab too. Not having had any of my lunch I was just ready for a bit of al fresco pizza and a cup of tea made over the camp fire!
Topping the part baked pizza dough
pizza in the cob oven
At this point I had to leave but before I did I promised David Shaw, the Director of Research at the Sarvari Trust that I would pay a return visit to take a look at his Sarpo blight resistant potatoes as well as the other unusual produce he grows down in the greenhouses at Henfaes. More on that to follow.
If you fancy making a cob oven in your garden, or on your allotment they are surprisingly easy to construct and there are directions on Riks website to help you…just follow the links for making bread ovens.