Saturday, 18 July 2015

Busy Month, chefs, cider and TV

Is Bampton really mid Devon? With Somerset only a few miles up the road, it does feel like we are really on the edge, so in saying that it meant that we got an invite (sneaky) to attend Somerset Chefs Club first ever dinner at The Beach Hotel Minehead. The hotel has been taken over by the YMCA and is run as a training school in all forms of the hospitality industry, well not everyone is cut out for schools or college. The young people are taught and supervised at all time by a group of fully qualified professionals, some attend college on day release or are assessed on the job, so they can gain suitable levels at NVQ to move forward with there chosen career, one of the young chefs was leaving the following week to start a new job in Scotland at a Michelin starred hotel. What a great bunch of people they were, they were so enthusiastic and proud of their achievements, from the minute we entered to the moment we left we were given 5star treatment, we could have been at the Ritz. The staff showcased their food and front of house skills and a wonderful night was had by all. So if you are wandering along Minehead seafront and fancy something to eat, bare The Beach Hotel in mind a great cause and well worth a visit.

June is always a busy month for us, with Fathers day, the start of wedding season and the Iron Man competition at Wimbleball Lake increasing the number of people wishing to eat, added to this we lucky to be chosen to cook for The Cannonball Chefs, this caused much excitement on Facebook and Twitter. The country is split into 4 areas and a team of 4 has 48 hours to eat at 24 restaurants ending at the 25th one in Birmingham where all the teams meet up. It might all sound very glamorous but the guys that visited us looked absolutely broken by it all, there’s a heck of a lot of miles traveling around the southwest area to visit all of these foodie places, I know they had a great time and ate some amazing dishes, but I’m sure they slept for a couple of days when it was all over.

We branched out last week and had a pop up bar at Tiverton's Electric Nights food festival, selling some amazing local cider, we had a great night, met some wonderful people and of course sampled some awesome and filling food, all with bands playing in the background. So if I were you, I would look out for the next Electric Night food festival and go along, take the kids and the dogs all are welcome. I'm sure you'll have a real fun night.

Back to Plymouth for a Devon chefs club dinner, the Greedy Goose was once again the venue, this time Ben was assisted by Mike Palmer (who runs the chefs club) head chef at The Two Bridges Hotel in Princetown, who teamed up with the guys from Tigermilk a cocktail bar, so not only did we have great food we had matching cocktails. (At least I've eaten two good meals this month)

The end of the month saw features in Devon life magazine, catering the crew from Come Dine With Me (no they didn’t tell me any gossip) and a day with David Griffin award-winning food photographer taking pictures of our food, so all in all a hectic but fun end to the month.

Soft fruit is obviously bountiful this year and suddenly we find ourselves inundated with gifts from customers. Unfortunately these fruits don't last too long and there are only so many you can freeze. We have made some great purees for decoration and we will be making jams and chutneys but I have found a great looking cake recipe so you can use up any of your excess fruit. Enjoy

Summer Fruit Drizzle Cake

         2 large eggs
         2 tsp vanilla extract
         175g fruits, stoned and diced weight
         140g granulated sugar
         1-2 tbsp citrus juice - lemon, lime or orange
         175g very soft butter, plus extra for greasing
         175g golden caster sugar
                  250g self-raising flour

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin and line the base and ends with a long strip of baking parchment. Put the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla extract into a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer for 5 mins until pale and creamy – the mixture will be very thick.
Spread one-third of the cake mix into the tin, then scatter over 50g of the fruit. Carefully dot and spread another third of the cake mix on top, and scatter with another 50g fruit. Finally dot the rest of the cake mix over and gently spread with the back of a spoon. Bake for 1 hr, until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Poke the cake all over with a skewer. Put remaining 75g fruit into a bowl with the granulated sugar. Stir in 1 tbsp of the citrus juice first with a fork, mashing a little of the fruit as you go. If it’s a bit dry, add a splash more juice and spoon over the cake. Leave in the tin until the cake is cool and the topping is set and crisp.

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