Tag Archives: Magimix

Four weddings and a festival

Apologies for my tardiness, I’m sure you’ve thought I’d abandoned you all over the last month, but really I’ve been so busy doing that I’ve had little time for putting my endeavours down on paper. Now that the craziness has died down I have plenty of time to update you all with what we’ve been up to and what is still to come this year…

I knew May and June were going to be hectic. With four weddings, a festival and a few other jobs thrown in for good measure it was inevitable. As you will know from my earlier post my first wedding went well. Despite the almost arctic temperatures and prematurely running out of Quiche, we still received a round of applause for the food (I didn’t actually hear it, but my waitresses did).We started the season on a high.

Sadly the weather was no kinder for the remaining four events. Imagine biblical scale flooding, a months rain in a day and high winds that levelled two marquees and you will get an idea of what we’ve had to deal with.

Our little festival cafe…full of wet & cold people on Sunday

Our first event was Kaya festival which had its fair share of dramas (mostly due to chaotic organisation) . This was a brand new festival put together by a team of novice promoters with the aim of celebrating music, diversity and arts. They certainly had big ideas, an impressive list of acts, interspersed with a range of exceptionally good local artists and it all looked good. For my part I’d been asked to do some cookery demonstrations and had several conversations with them about local suppliers and producers.  Sadly this, like a lot of things over the weekend didn’t quite run to plan. The demonstrations didn’t happen as no kitchen was organised. A lot of workshops didn’t happen either although this was in part due to the atrocious weather conditions on Sunday which saw a lot of local people head for home. With hindsight it was a good thing they didn’t happen as I ended up having plenty of other problems to  sort out. On Friday I arrived to unload, I didn’t know where I should set up and neither did anyone else. After five hours of trying to work out what was going on I finally phoned a friend, borrowed their marquee and put it up myself in a spot I quite liked. The organisers appeared happy to let me solve my own problems although security (or site management i’m not sure which) glared at me and spoke intensely into their radios for a while before leaving me in peace. It also emerged that I was the only person on site doing decent veggie or vegan food. Consequently I sold out three times and had to go home every night to prepare more for the next day. Making hummus at midnight on a Saturday and chick pea stew at 5am on Sunday is not good for the energy levels.

When the heavens opened on Sunday a lot of cold damp people that remained on site flocked to me for a warm lunch and a marquee to stay dry in. We’d sold out of stew by tea time…again. I didn’t have the energy or ingredients left to make more but I did nip home and make hummus and get more feta for wraps and buns.

Despite selling out three times I was left with about two hundred pounds worth of meat (I’m saving the last bag in my freezer for the next produce market). Numbers on Sunday were low and as we weren’t doing breakfasts (which with hindsight we should have done) we just couldn’t get rid of it!  I wasn’t out-of-pocket before you fret on my behalf, but I certainly didn’t cover my costs for three sixteen hour days, plus preparation for the cooking demos, plus helping out other stall holders source local produce and find staff as well as doing costings for the organisers.

On a more positive note, Friday and Saturday were lovely days. The music was great and the production team did a fantastic job. Lots of attendees had a wonderful time (I’ve seen the reviews). There were some lovely touches; the baby chamber, the healing field, Dr Zigs giant bubbles, James and the syrcus circus tent that played host to some great acts,  the ‘market’ run by Emma at Ysbryd y Ddraig, plus a run of lovely visitors to our stall for wraps, baps and hot stew. Over the weekend we fed Bandabacana, The Pistols, (Johnny Rotten’s reference...”the chorizo was bang on” ) plus Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and his musicians and members of Drymbago…and i’m not sure who else because I was very busy!! The funniest moment was watching Rosie my teen waitress climb on stage with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

If the organisers can sort out all that ‘behind the scenes’ stuff that let the festival down and learn from their mistakes this has the potential to be a great little festival.  I’d like it to happen again. It’s a beautiful setting, in a great part of the world. Hopefully next year will be more polished and will have grown from this years experience. I know I have!

Moving swiftly on (and it really was a swift transition) to wedding two and three;. The heavens opened at Kaya and didn’t really stop. I’d lost two working days due to the Jubilee celebrations (which mercifully I slept through) and I was seriously playing catch up by the time Wednesday arrived.

With my kitchen helper ensconced I set to preparing canapes for thirty for delivery that evening. Blinis with smoked salmon, tomato and basil brushetta and tiny oak smoked tomato and black bomber tarts were put together at a rate of knots and delivered to Llanberis at the foot of Snowdon in the worst torrential rain you can imagine. From there I zoomed off to Caernarfon to give a talk about my experience of running a supper club and setting up in business at a Chwarae Teg event.

Friday morning and the rain continued. Preparation for wedding three was complete. At four pm we drove to the venue to deliver the food through a flooded Ogwen Valley. It was like a scene from Indiana Jones. I imagined myself driving through water falls while rocks fell from above. The platter of dressed salmon shot from one end of the van to the other as I braked suddenly. Then a box fell on top of it.  I was on the verge of tears. At the venue the guests and wedding party wore head to foot waterproofs and wellies.

On the day itself the bride had planned to canoe across the lake Hiawatha style to arrive at her wedding. Instead she drove herself there in her white van and entered the venue protected by a huge umbrella. The salmon survived. The bride remained dry and at least by the afternoon the rain had subsided and a hint of sun allowed the guests to go outside and the kids to play in the field.

Inside everything was beautiful. Yellows and greens gave the venue a fresh summery feel despite the weather outside. As with our first wedding we provided a hot and cold buffet, this time with waitress service to make sure portions were strictly controlled. With vegan food put to one side we couldn’t risk the meat eaters helping themselves. I felt like a food fascist as one man said “could I have some tart please” my response being “are you vegetarian or vegan”? “No” he replied, “well you can’t” I responded at which point he moved a long and had some lamb looking a bit sorry for himself. ).

Putting it all together in the kitchen…vintage china, which was also used on the tables and for tea and coffee

Cakes galore!

The menu of over night roast shoulder of lamb with rosemary and honey (lamb from Gerlan), marinated chicken with gremolata, cold salmon with dill mayonnaise, wild mushroom and leek croustade (vegan), plus a selection of salad, bread, Welsh cheese board and chutney went down a treat. The desserts (baked cheesecake with blackcurrant coulis, chocolate torte, chocolate cake (vegan) made by the best vegan cake maker I know, Lynwen from Aderyn Melis, fruit salad and mango-passionfruit sorbet) also disappeared so quickly some barely got a look in!

A beautiful wedding cake made by the brides mother and sisters graced the table later, along with two huge vats of stew and couscous to go with them. It always amazes me how quickly food disappears…no matter how much you put on the table!

This wedding was of friends of ours so Sean and Aidan joined me for the evening and we Ceilidh’d the night away, until I had one too many glasses of wine and tiredness caught up with me. I abandoned the van and Sean drove us home, me nodding with tiredness in the front.

You might have hoped the last wedding was less dramatic but sadly you would be wrong. This makes a story on its own which I will regale you with in my next post! For now though I feel obliged to thank all those people that made all these events possible…Rosie the teen waitress; as ever, beautiful, stroppy, over dramatic, but always there when I need her (except at Kaya cos she was too busy having a good time ;-)…for the weddings…Elin Cain (singer with Vintage Magpie), Lhotse Sounds (get well soon honey), Lee Watson (The Beach House Kitchen), Amber Green (our newest lovely waitress)…..for Kaya; Zion Stuart (bassist with Dinosaur Garden…next time try not to scare the customers away :-)), Sam Cuthbertson, Swyn Anwyl Williams and Sadie Medhurst

….I love you all and thank you xx

Last but not least I have to thank Magimix for my new blender….10 kilo’s carrots, 5 kilos beetroot, three buckets of hummus (using 50 cans chick peas), cheesecake and chocolate cake mix for 60 plus 100 cupcakes,  40 onions finely chopped, 20 heads of garlic, plus bunches of parsley, mint, coriander all finely chopped….would have been beyond the capabilites of my poor old machine so my new machine truly was a LIFE SAVER!!

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Filed under British food, Cooking equipment, event catering, festival catering, festival food, home cooking, kitchen gadgets, local produce, seasonal food, Uncategorized, Wedding catering

My new love…..a Magimix 5200 XL and a recipe for vegan chocolate mousse cake

My husband has this theory. He says that there a male power tools and female power tools. Male power tools go in things (like big powerful drills) while things go in the female equivalent (like food processors and vaccum cleaners). I think he’s talking a load of sexist crap myself, cement mixers (male tool) have stuff put in them and hand blenders (female tool) goes into stuff. He does have a point though when he says I have developed a very male obsession with my new power tool (because, while were on the sexist crap theme, men do become rather obsessed with their tools, don’t they?)

My new obsession borders on love actually, and my brand new girly power tool, a lovely new Magimix 5200XL food processor, is the object of that love. From the moment it arrived, as I ripped open the packaging to see its sleek, shiny, good-looking body, I was in awe. It looked good in and out of its packaging, but at the same time its strong, sturdy and practical design (like the perfect man perhaps? the perfect combo of substance and style) suggested it would stand the test of time. Yep, you got it, I’ve fallen for it big time!

For years I’ve wanted a Magimix. I’ve stared in desolation at images online longingly desiring that unattainable bit of eye candy for the kitchen. I’ve seen other serious cooks use them and tried them out myself. It made me want one even more. Now that I actually have my own I’m like a giggly, nervous teenager experiencing my first crush.

Of course like every new relationship it has to be tried and tested, and this weekend I certainly put through its paces. I’ve grated, shredded, blended and pulsed. Since it is an extra-large model, designed for catering as well as household use, it has three bowls in one, all of differing sizes. I’ve tried out each. The smallest is perfect for smaller quantities of blended sauce or puree. I made a sauce verde with parsley, coriander, mint, a squeeze of lemon juice, some salt and some olive oil. I only needed enough to marinade my chicken for the barbecue and the machine managed it admirably.

The next size bowl is designed for use with a grater or shredder attachment, I guess it’s so you don’t have to wash the large bowl every time. My lovely machine grated and had plenty of room for 500g grated carrot (and I could have fitted in more). It also grated it in super fast time compared to my poor old machine that has been on its last legs for a while, and took forever. The teen watched,

“Woah, has it done it?” she said, not quite believing how quick it was.

For its next test I let the teen have a go. Smoothies are her favourite. I’m sure she would live on them given half a chance, but as my smoothie machine blew up a while ago (after she used it I might add) she’s been sadly deprived and longing for an adequate replacement. This was the perfect opportunity to see how it fared.

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We threw some mango, strawberries, banana and a handful of frozen blackcurrant’s in to the largest bowl along with a splash of semi-skimmed milk and some apple juice. If you like it sweeter you can also add a trickle of agave syrup or honey. I clicked the lid in to place (even doing this feels smooth and efficient) and the machine switched on. Less than two minutes later we had four glasses of perfectly smooth, thick smoothie.

For our last test of the weekend I decided to experiment. With another wedding coming up, for which I need to cater for half a dozen vegans, I thought I’d have a go making a vegan chocolate mousse cake. I’d recently been sent a couple of blocks of Willie’s Cacao (made by Willie Harcourt-Cooze) and thought it the perfect opportunity to try it out. Willie’s cacao is a serious cooks chocolate and not for the faint hearted. Its strong, pure cacao, quite expensive, but I love it and its worth it. Plus it sounds like you are buying something elicit with names like Madagascan Black and Venezuelan Black!! It’s not a chocolate you can eat straight from the wrapper so don’t even try! Its sharp and bitter because it has no added sugar or sweeter like other chocolate and although the hint of fruitiness is still in evidence, it’s strictly for adding to dishes.

I found a recipe on Vegan.com that I tinkered with to create something that suited our palate. It consisted of a thin cake layer topped with a chocolate mousse, plus a layer of fresh fruit.

For the sponge I used:

100g flour (I used dark rye but it made the cake too heavy so I would use half rye and half white next time)

half a teaspoon bicarb of soda

a good pinch of salt

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

95g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

3 tablespoons sunflower or ground nut oil.

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

up to 100ml cold water

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre then add oil, vanilla and cider vinegar. Stirring lightly with a fork, add enough cold water to make your cake batter. Turn into an oiled and lined 7 inch loose bottom cake tin. Bake in a preheated oven gas mark 4, 180 degree C for around half an hour. Keep checking after 25 minutes.

In a the large bowl of the new food processor in placed 1 block (about 300g) silken tofu, 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, a pinch of sea-salt, 2 tablespoons vegan milk (soy milk) which I blitzed for a couple of minutes. To this I added 1 block of Willie’s cacao (I used the Madagascan Black) which I had melted in an oven proof bowl on the lowest shelf of the preheating oven and between 1 and 4 tablespoons (or as much as you need) Agave syrup.

The texture was fantastic. Mousse like, smooth and creamy. My old processor would never have managed to blend the tofu so effectively so I was over the moon with this.

The mixture was then smoothed over the cooked and cooled cake base which was then placed in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Finally I removed the mousse cake from the tin and decorated it with sliced strawberries.

The verdict? Well, apart from the base being a little firm, it was a great hit!. The mousse itself was light and creamy with enough dark chocolate taste to satisfy the hard-core chocolate lover. Hubby was less impressed. He’s not that keen on very dark chocolate, but then he doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth anyway. Teen loved it, as did the kid. Sadly we didn’t find any vegans to help us out, but it would never have lasted that long anyway.

So a weekend of success? Yes very definitely. I would recommend a Magimix to anyone. Perhaps not such a large model for the average kitchen, but they do lots of smaller models in gorgeous funky colours. Is my affair going to last? Well so far so good….but I will let you know after I’ve made hummus and salad to feed 500 next weekend!!

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Filed under British food, cakes & Baking, Cooking equipment, Recipes, Uncategorized, vegan cookery

Three sweet treats with Rachel’s organic yogurt

After much excitement and plenty of experimentation and tasting I came up with three delicious and universally popular recipes (well in our house and among my friends they were anyway), using Rachel’s gooseberry, honey and coconut yogurt.

We’d already used the cream in the Tipsy Laird, eaten the rice puddings and small pots of yogurt for our lunches (yum) and various flavoured and natural yogurt had accompanied crumble and cake, so it was time to try out a few new recipes.

a rather messy mess…half demolished by the kids

I started with the gooseberry yogurt which I combined with home-made meringue, crispy on the outside, soft and gooey in the middle, broken into rough pieces and topped with a tart gooseberry puree to make a gooseberry Eton mess. It really was a very gooey mess, but the silence round the table and smacking of lips said the experiment was a success.

mmmmm fresh ice cream every day!

In the meantime I received some new kitchen equipment, one of the items being a Magimix Gelato 2000 professional ice-cream maker. Set on giving it a try out, I decided to kill two birds with one stone, try the new machine and make some ice cream with one of the pots of yogurt, so off I went in search of frozen yogurt recipes. Most of them were American and referred to the frozen yogurt dessert annoyingly as a ‘fro-yo’, popular in the 80’s and now experiencing a bit of a renaissance. There were one or two coconut fro-yo recipes so I had a look then went off and had a tinker.

The combination I came up with used

Half a cup of castor sugar (in American measurement), 1 large tub of Rachel’s organic Greek style coconut yogurt and half a tin of thick coconut milk.

Stir together to dissolve and combine the sugar then put in an ice-cream maker until it forms a thick creamy consistency. If you don’t have an ice-cream maker then you will need to transfer it to a rigid container and put it in the freezer. Stir every hour or so to prevent ice crystals building up until set.

Frozen yogurt ice-cream with toasted coconut and passion fruit sauce

I served mine with toasted coconut on top and some passion fruit sauce (which was simply sieved passion fruit spooned over the top).

muffins all ready to bake

I used the Greek style honey yogurt  in honey banana muffins. I used a Hugh Fiercely-eats-it-all (as my friend Molly has christened him) recipe and substituted the plain yogurt for the honey variety and added a couple of small mashed bananas.

The recipe for 12 was

225g plain flour 2 t-spoons baking powder Pinch of Halen Mon sea salt (it’s the best) 100g castor sugar 1 medium egg 125g Rachel’s organic Greek style honey yogurt 125ml milk 75g Rachel’s unsalted butter 2 small mashed bananas Put twelve muffin cases into a muffin tray and preheat the oven at gas mark 4/180 degree C. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Mix the egg, milk, yogurt and melted butter in a jug. Pour into dry ingredients and mix lightly. Be sure not to over mix as the muffins will be stodgy. Add mashed bananas and stir a couple of times to incorporate into the mixture. Spoon into the paper cases and cook for 30 minutes until golden brown. When cooked transfer to a wire rack to cool and eat! These muffins barely lasted an hour, the poor sick little un who has barely eaten all week (very unusual for him) managed two and the descending teenagers finished the rest….but then I did say they were best eaten fresh!

the cooked muffins

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