Outstanding to have Mike give his time, enthusiasm and expertise in sharing his recipes and tricks-of-the-trade with me. Together we made a glorious ice-cream and two different sauces to ripple through – perfect as there is some hope of sun this summer.
Cooking alongside a professional chef could have been daunting: would I be quick enough, accurate enough and clean enough? On the day, no fear as we happily cooked together: he realised what might be tricky and we found ways of working around blindness. Exactly what I’d like to achieve if my bid for the international Holman prize should succeed.
I’ve eaten his food for years when he was working at my favourite local brasserie and his ever-changing range of home-made ice-creams was always my favourite dessert choice. He even catered a big birthday party for me a couple of years ago. This is a chef on top of his form who has recently launched his own business: catering for that special private dinner party at home to big corporate functions extending over whole weekends.
You can watch us working together: we didn’t include the noisy churning in the ice-cream maker because not everyone has one but the recipe can still work with just a freezer and occasional stir to break up the ice crystals. The salted caramel sauce would work with lots of other puddings – especially the sticky toffee sort – while the strawberry compote is delicious by itself or with meringues, a crisp biscuit, and some sponge – endless variations! And absolutely none of this is difficult and every ingredient is easy to find. Desserts that are so wonderfully wicked that they need to be locked away in a freezer – preferably with guards and barbed wire!
Penny Melville-Brown OBE
Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk
Helping disabled people to work since 2000
Watch me make them on YouTube or download the recipe here
Did you know: English party-goers undaunted by summer weather. Vintage band re-energises vintage rockers. Hog roast and local brasserie delight party gourmets.Sunday’s once-in-a-lifetime, utterly memorable celebration showed that it is the guests and helpers who make a great party, rather than whoever’s giving it. It was a somewhat belated birthday bash that turned in to a triumph of well-wishers over the weather.
That’s not to say that planning with military precision wasn’t essential: from building a new extension 18 months ago, pre-booking music and food plus lining up all the extra tables and chairs. But, at the end of the day, it was everyone else who played a part: Sue and Sally helped create the magnificent flower arrangements throughout, brother Martin set up the gazebos and table plans, Karen and Jane sorted all the place settings, Julie made her magical coleslaw and other massed salads while Roger selected the liqueurs – and there were more.
It was, of course, a typical English summer day: drizzling to start with drips disintegrating table coverings, the wind gusting to lift the gazebos and the prospect of puddling along paths for everyone. Toni was stalwart in overriding the automatic awning that threatened to rewind at each zephyr-breath and reveal the biggest table to the rain: it would have been damp seats all round.
Someone smiled down on us: the weather cleared and alcohol-fuelled calories increased the temperature. Fabulous food was delivered to each table courtesy of Larry and his team (Lauro’s Brasserie in Fareham) plus a stupendously succulent hog roast hand carved by Martin (Greenfield Pork). Even with second and third helpings, the left-overs went to good homes.
There was no stopping multi-generational foot stompers from pounding the lawn in to submission when the Vintage Sounds band (firstname.lastname@example.org) turned up the volume – Elvis would have been proud. Jiving under the ancient apple trees was only slightly hazardous if you could avoid the low branches! And “We’ll meet again” turned us in to a joyous group interlinked by hands, shared rhythm by foot but rather less harmony by voice. Three rousing encores and we collapsed for night-caps and fireworks.
What a day of revels –the first guests arrived at 1400 and the last left just before midnight. We slept well but everything was cleared the following morning – and now the house is full of the scent of lilies from all the table arrangements. There’s still a pile of gifts and cards to open – just need a sighted-someone to help.
It was a wonderful day – and it wouldn’t have been so magical without the warmth and gusto of everyone. And we raised over £800 for the band’s charity: Macmillan Cancer support.