Sunday, 23 February 2014

five days a week I masquerade as a chef !

We occasionally open for evening meals in the café where I work. Normally we open from 9 to 5 (with longer hours in the summer), but we do small parties and the odd special event. The second chef (Ferri) is Iranian so we did a Persian night last October. We can only seat 24, but it's all a bit frantic providing starters, mains and desserts in our tiny kitchen.
The Persian evening was great fun and the customers loved the food. Ferri brought in a samovar and beautiful cups for tea and sweet treats to serve after the meal.

I did a tapas night in December, on the week of my big birthday. It was once again rather frantic because there were up to seven dishes each and then two desserts, so I didn't take any pictures. Thankfully I had Ferri to help, I couldn't have done it without her (we also always have another lady, Sally, who does the drinks, serving and washing up !).

A couple of weeks ago some regulars asked if we were doing something for Valentines, but we hadn't planned anything. Then another couple asked, so we thought we'd better !

I put on three starters, two main dishes plus a couple of mains from the usual menu and three desserts. I didn't want to make up loads of things that we wouldn't be able to sell after, and also there isn't much room in our fridges for extra stuff.

This was my favourite starter, a stack of mozzarella, tomato and basil, in a heart shape with a drizzle of olive oil, some black pepper and a balsamic glaze. The whole menu is on the café's facebook if you wish to see it. We did all sorts of things with hearts - manchego cheese crisps for the vegetarian puy lentil dish,

heart shaped beef patties for Ferri's Persian starter and more fresh manchego cheese hearts that we served with serrano ham. Then there were lots of hearts in the desserts.
I made my favourite baked cheesecake, a recipe that I haven't made for about 10 years and which I originally found about 30 years ago. It's a wonderful American recipe with cups for measurements that I changed into our more usual ounces.
I didn't quite put enough melted butter into the biscuit base, but it was ok when served, especially with the heart strawberries (an idea I stole from Danielle at Silver Pennies).
Another favourite dessert I made was Lemon Posset, Raspberry Coulis and Brandy Snaps but maybe I shall do a post on this because I forgot to take a picture of the finished result and it really is scrumptious.
The best bit and my favourite bit had nothing to do with the cooking, I much prefer decorating the café !!!
I painted some lining paper with a match pot of black paint, made a template and drew round it to make heart shaped tablemats for everyone who had booked Valentines night.
They worked well with the red paper we always use on the tables. We had red candles, flowers and chocolate hearts and it all looked really pretty (in our own shabby, beachy, coastal way !!).

We only had 7 couples booked in, so that there was a more romantic feel to the evening with everyone having their own table.

The artist (David) I spoke about here, has recently stencilled our logo onto the floor, and the boss has given us the go ahead to paint the chairs and re-cover the seats. I say 'us' but I mean 'me' because David wants to help painting the fabric, but not the chairs, so it might take some time. At work I'm always cooking and on days off I'd rather be doing my own house.

You can't really tell from my dreadful photos, but it really did look lovely and it's thanks to a great couple Graeme and Sophie who love to sit in the old cinema seats, that the night actually went ahead !

Why am I masquerading ? Because I'm not a professional chef, and I would much rather be painting blackboard hearts and making heart daisy chains than thinking up menus, but unfortunately I have to pay the bills !!!