Another of our much anticipated Sunday sessions was once again upon us, and even a wonderful night spent cupping with the lovely folk at Padre couldn't quell my excitement for this one. That's not to say I wasn't enamoured by the interesting Finca Himalaya from El Salvador, the chocolatey Bali Highlander, the tasty Chanchamayo of Peru, the delicious Costa Rican or M's pretty new pony (swanky!); or that we had anything particularly spectacular planned (well, above our usual standards anyway); there were just new things to try and I was in need of a happier headspace, which is often easily found in the kitchen of TPB.
After the salad spectacular that was our last Sunday session, we decided sweet treats should be the order of the day, and while no particular theme had been chosen, you could say that our array of afternoon delights were all perhaps 'classics, with a twist'. And as you all know, good food is made better when shared with pleasant company, so in addition to the affable Marc and Will who were charming company indeed, we thought there was none more deserving of an invitation to join us in our saccharine escapades than the delightful Miss Alice, an all-round lovely lady and recently submitted master of glue (hurrah, I say!).
Our first decadent selection came about from the following thought process…'We should do something with rhubarb and ginger, that relish we did with the pork was just divine'…
'Well, we've been meaning to do Chocolate & Zucchini's very ginger cookies'…
'How about rhubarb parfait with very ginger cookies?'…
'Nice. Why don't we do it with the marsala cream from our tiramisu?'…
Parfait preparation – Marsala cream and very ginger cookies
(And yes, that is what happens when you're a few degrees out with your sugar syrup)
Rhubarb parfait with Marsala cream and very ginger cookies
The second classic evolved from a slightly simpler train of thought… 'How do you think we should use The Moose?'… 'Um, mousse?' The Moose, I should probably explain, belongs to a rather cute collection of cookie cutters acquired by Miss Rose from a quaint little kitchen shop in the bohemian locality of Prenzlauer Berg, in Berlin. To feature said moose, we made some chocolate wafers, a cherry white chocolate mousse (with TPB sweet preserved morello cherries, naturally), combined the two and, vois la!
Cherry moose mousse
The last of our sweet classic concoctions was selected for a number of reasons. Firstly, Miss Rose had created a stunning ten-inch double-layer masterpiece during the week that ignited an urge to continue exercising her decorative talents. Secondly, I experienced (by my standards at least) are rather severe baking disaster (oven died, icing didn't take…) and was damned if I was going to be defeated by something as simple as sour cream frosting. And thirdly, for reasons that will become clear in due course, I was on a mission to find and master the greatest butter cake recipe known to man.
Mother Yow graciously disclosed to us her butter cake secrets, and from then the pressure was on. Could I deliver a cake worthy of Mother's standards and perform competently under the watchful gaze and scrutiny of Miss Rose? Well, of course I could…
Mother Yow's butter cake
And I will retract my derogatory cursings made to describe my feelings for sour cream frosting. When a more careful selection of ingredients is made and you give it a little more love, it actually works a treat.
Butter cake with chocolate sour cream frosting
(decorations by the de-lovely Miss Alice)
But if frosting is not your thing, then you can always just do this:
Butter cake with TPB raspberry jam and cream
For dinner, we of course required something savoury, and this took the form of penguin pie. For guidance we turned to none other than Fergus Henderson with his classic fish pie (you didn't think we were really using penguin, did you?). Some lovely smoked haddock was cooked in milk and flaked over hard-boiled eggs before being smothered in white sauce and topped with creamy mashed potato. Finished with said penguins and served with crisp green beans, Fergus' fish pie was the epitome of comfort food and a superb way to end a day of classic indulgences.
So, thoroughly satisfied, we retired for the day. Consumed to excess we most certainly had, but we withdrew happy with what we'd produced and glad to have shared our extravagances with such wonderful people. If a day can distract you for its entirety and remind you of what it's like to smile then it is a good day, and this was indeed one of those days.
Until next we meet…