Monday, 15 August 2011

Mummy's Little Helper

Ask anyone where they got their passion for cooking from and more often than not they will immediately drop their heads to the floor, begin to fumble with a button at the bottom of their shirt and raise an awkward left foot onto tippy toes before answering, "in my Mummy's kitchen". Shortly after this brief retreat back to childhood, it is then quite normal for the person in question to expand, quite vividly, upon a detailed history of peeling, baking, chopping, stirring, and tasting, all by their Mother's side. Knee high to a grass hopper is demonstrated by level palm and the battered stool to reach the counter top is reminisced with tearful joy. Before long, they start boasting that they we're doing the Sunday dinner at the age of 6 and had cracked champagne sabayon way before the first hairy shoots of pubescence appear. Such is the wunderkind who owes it all to Mother.

Well I have to say from personal experience, that this is a load of rubbish. And before I go any further, I should tell you that am reliving, in part, a tale I heard from a chef in a tv studio. As I sat there, listening to him regale an over romanticized upbringing of culinary enlightenment starting at the age of 3 (all of which of course was all down to his dear, dear Mummy) I found myself desperately wanting to shake him and slap him and scream "THIS IS NOT TRUE!" Why? Because I've got kids myself and despite all my best efforts, the pair of them are absolutely crap in the kitchen. Have you seen their pastry? By the time it goes in the oven, it's grey, malformed and usually has a brick of Lego stuck in it. And we can never ever get frigging cupcakes baked, you know why? Because the bloody mixture always gets eaten before it can be spooned into the paper cases and the hundreds and thousands usually gets scattered into hundreds and thousands on the kitchen floor. And as for chopping vegetables, how difficult is it to mirepoix some onion, carrots and celery? Quite difficult with a plastic knife by all accounts but the fact that the twins still haven't got to grasps with redumentary chopping techniques drives me up the bloody wall.

So in short, anyone who opines that they caught the cooking bug by helping their Mum in the kitchen is a bloody liar. Like Nicola from The Shed, she's a bloody liar. I'm not buying into the ol' 'there used to be a mark on a cupboard in our kitchen where I used to balance and scrape my cooking stool against it'. I don't believe that she ever made cakes and pastry with her mum and that her childhood was always a wandering journey of homemade feasts, picnics and eating out. Ditching university to work at Foreman and Field sounds like a complete nonsense to me (although she now works at Hubbub - a food delivery company in Norf Landaan that utilises local shops). And to suggest that her supperclub was only ever to be a venture to push her cooking futher and to have fun, yes fun! Well come on, Nicola, you're making this shit up aren't you?

Maybe she's not.

Because her Mexican meatballs, complete with hot chilli sauce, gremolata and rice was pretty amazing. Spicy and tangy but not as hot as Nicola feared, the meatballs were fantastically moist, well seasoned with hints of lime and chipotle, the rice was plain and simple. Her dessert of meringues with strawberries and caramel sauce was an absolute belter. Delicately formed tears of crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside meringue, decorated with what, food colouring? I dunno but they were great with chopped strawberries and drizzled with sweet toffee flavoured, caramel sauce and cream. A real, naughty, decadent dish and delicious meal overall. Hard to believe that Nicola rustled it up after a night on the razz but we'll won't tell her Mum about that.

And as for me. Well I obviously have to pull my socks up where the twins are concerned. Either that or pass the baton to Mrs FU.

Thanks for a lovely kick start to WMPC Nicola, I hope you enjoyed the wine!

So who is next?

Meringue Yo! Rice Yo! Strawberries Yo! Meatballs Yo! Thundercats Yo!

Saponara, an Italian deli that is on the Hubbub rostra I believe

Mexican Meatballs with Gremolata and Rice

Meringues with Strawberries, Caramel Sauce and Cream

I drank the rest of the caramel sauce afterwards


  1. Wow, that looks delicious!

    Having been to Le Shed, can vouch for the deliciousness and the warm welcome.

    And, erm, my ma got me into cooking, for sure, though not at 3 and having cookery lessons at school in secondary school definitely helped.


    And I failed GCSE Food Technology. Hmmm.

    Pleased you enjoyed Mr FU, it was a pleasure to cook for and meet you - and the tasty plonk eased into night two of Rowdy Leeds Pals On Tour - thank you!

    Let me know when the twins master the perfect chiffonade technique, I could do with a couple of skivvies...

  3. As ever, a very entertaining read. :)
    My mum got me into cooking too but at three it was more that I was doing the washing up!

  4. I always feel inadequate when I hear those "learnt at my Mother's knee" stories... My Mum let us stir the Christmas pudding mix and we made "rock cakes" every Sunday (rock being the operative word). She could make a mean rolly polly pudding (spotted dick I believe other people call it!) and a steamed pudding but, frankly, the rest of her cooking was mediocre to say the least! I grew up very fussy, disliking just about everything despite the fact that we grew 6 different types of fruit and over 15 different types of veg in our garden....Actually that DID drive me into cooking - once I left home and had to cook for myself and found out veg wasn't meant to be watery mush, or meat tough as qhoe leather, I discovered a whole new world. So maybe I DID learn how (not) to cook from my mother...

  5. Yo! I'm up for doing a WMPC. Let's set it up if you'd like to risk my cooking. Will email you. X