Category Archives: Food

Tom’s Cakes

Yesterday I went to the RHS garden, Rosemoor at Great Torrington, North Devon, you may have seen my rose photos. What I didn’t know until I got there, was that they were having a local food festival. There was fish, preserves, cheese, cider, wonderful sausages and ethically produced meat and the strongest chilli chocolate I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t going to let it beat me, but I bought a milder bar with coffee added. The bread was gorgeous, I chose a densely textured, dark loaf with apple that is perfect on its own or with the tiniest sliver of cheese.

My favourite stand by far was Tom’s Cakes. Tom has a little shop in Combe Martin where he sells heavenly mousses and bavarois, truffles, tarts and loads more indulgent, diet busting, delights. My photos do not do them  justice, they are exquisite, but look at these and drool.

They are made with pate sablee pastry, real vanilla and must be the best outside of France. Tom has won Gold awards for his Blueberry Frangipane, and White Chocolate and Rasberry Bavarois in the Taste of the West Awards. There are a couple of wedding cakes on his website, have a peep.

Gypsy Cooks

Mayumi over at saw that I had made soup for lunch yesterday and asked if I would share the recipe, so this is my style of cooking. I’m lazy, busy and disorganised. Other then traditional cake baking, Victoria Sandwich for instance, where to make it work the 4-4-2 is best, my philosophy is that if I like the flavours then most things will go together.
I often make soup, its quick, tasty and easy. Yesterdays was butternut squash and it goes something like this.
Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and stickly orange stuff, drizzle a tiny bit of oil and roast it until its soft when you burn your fingers squeezing it. If you’re in a rush don’t bother roasting just peel it, chop it up and shove it in a big pan. Add a chopped up carrot or two – or don’t if you don’t have any. A red pepper, deseeded, roasted or not, two if the squash is large. If you have a chilli put in as much as you feel like bearing in mind that this soup is supposed to be sweet rather than hot, unless you prefer hot! You MUST put in an onion or two (that’s obvious isn’t it?), preferably red but if not … you get the picture. An extra special addition for me is African Gold (see )
I had a little sweet potato from last week that needed using so I put it in, but you don’t have to … unless you especially want to. Same applies with tomatoes, fresh or tinned, if you feel like it or have a glut, put them in. Add some water, some stock cubes, salt and pepper and bring to boil, reduce the heat and cook until its cooked. Depending on how much you put in at first you might want to add more water, or not if you like really thick soup. Oh I forgot, grate some fresh ginger in at some point. If you don’t have any, you can use ground instead, I don’t expect anyone will know. This is a smooth soup, so let it cool a bit and then blend it. I use a hand blender and it spirts all over the place but guess what? I’m too lazy to get the food processor out!
This was delicious yesterday and today some will go into a flask for a beach warm up, and it freezes well. It may be a bit odd, but I’m a good cook and I even have cookery books, but if a recipe has more than eight or so ingredients I can’t be bothered with it. It’s much more fun just playing. Of course if somethings turns out spectacular, it can never be reproduced, heyho, I’ll just try something else.

Easy Saturday

It shouldn’t be, I have so  much to do to prepare for Christmas, even a couple of gifts still to buy and cards to write. I wanted to photograph something on Topsham quay but rain stopped play and brunch was taken instead, a full veggie breakfast at Route 2. Next stop Sidmouth, where I wanted to walk on the beach and again take photos – rain stopped play. On the way home we stopped at the farm shop for bread, and to check out the displays of luscious tuck from near and far, all very mouthwatering.

The African Chef, the Next Big Thing!

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Malcolm Riley and his wife Sophie. They are perhaps the most food passionate people I have ever met. Their motto is ‘Inspired by Africa produced locally’ and Malcolm’s company is The African Chef. I was drawn towards their stand by the unusual sight – in Devon at least of a Baobab fruit and then the product labels caught my eye. BAOBAB JAM, of course I just had to taste the sampler, on cheese, the spicy version had all my taste buds zinging. I loitered, with plans to sample as many as I could get away with, all the same one of course – then I would move on to the next variety! Malcolm and Sophie are very friendly and keen to chat about their food. He is Zambian and grew up with a fusion of food because his mum worked at a Chinese restaurant, then had a catering business and a butchers. Apparently she was the best cook in Lusaka and his biggest influence.

I once spent a day in Zambia but ate in the home of an English woman so I was keen to learn about real Zambian food. They only season with salt, relying on the true flavour of the food rather than spice. We compared the traditional ‘Pap’, a maize meal with the West African Fufu that I’ve tried, a staple carbohydrate used as we use rice, pasta or potatoes.

Once Malcolm moved to London and was exposed to the vast array of food available he knew where his future lay. He spent six years working as a produce manager at Planet Organic. This must have been a huge learning curve, but he was hooked and with Sophie, moved to Devon and worked at Riverfood Farm. Here in Devon we produce some of the finest cheeses, wine and organic vegetables you can buy; Malcolm made some great contacts and moved forward.

I was mesmerised by the flavours to test and he asked if I like pepper flavours. Now, I can do without salt but pepperiness – no way. He showed me a jar of condiment made from Scotch Bonnets and I was tempted, but knowing my limitations, I opted instead for the African Gold, a divine mix of red kidney beans, chillies and garlic. I went in for seconds, just a tiny bit on bread and the flavour hit different parts of my mouth with different effects, zingy, hot and rich, it continued with an internal warmth, but not an over the top heat.

Next I tried the Carrot and Ginger Jam, mild and fruity and delicious on cheese. Malcolm had more delights to offer. A lovely little jar of buttery stuff, which he melted in a fondue to become a garlic dip, I tried it with bread and can imagine lots of ways to use it.

Of course I bought the Spicy African Gold and the hotter Scotch Bonnet for a gift, I sent my friend along and she couldn’t resist either. Malcolm gave me a free recipe card to showing how to use the condiment with steak. I said I wouldn’t be trying that as I don’t eat meat. He said that he had been veggie in the past and there was a recipe for tempura nettles, interesting, and I never say never, but because he added that it was good just stirred into potatoes, I’ve just had it with sweet potato mash – try it Malcolm if you haven’t already – it was wonderful. I look forward to trying it with fish, but perhaps not the cat fish or tilapia we talked about, I’m not sure it’s available here yet.

I wish I had tried more; there is a cordial and Baobab powder, which I didn’t even find out about. I’m certain that I’ll be buying more in the future, Malcolm’s products have already won awards. He grows some of his ingredients right here in Devon on his allotment, and he is dedicated to fair trade. As if this isn’t enough, 20 pence from every jar sold is donated to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, supporting anti-poaching and conservation projects in Africa.

When you see ‘The African Chef’ for sale – and you will, give it a try, this is really good food, 100% natural and I give it a huge thumbs up!


Jake’s Sunday post: Delicious

I wonder how many similar photos to mine there will be this week! I have just been for a walk by the river and decided to finish with a hot drink in the Coffee Cellar on the quay.

They always have divine home made cakes, but I managed to resist this time! Inside is lovely, they have comfy sofas and dogs are welcome but today was just warm enough to sit outside and people watch. Another other nice thing about the Coffee Cellar is that when they make you hot chocolate the put the bit that won’t fit into your cup into a little jug. My friend had the full works with cream, for me it’s just the marshmallows.

Thanks Jake for your DELICIOUS challenge!