Christine Wallace: in the mix!

Round & About

Food & Recipes

Hello everyone! Is it just me or is there a feelgood factor in the air recently?

In general people seem to be quite happy and smiley. Just passing someone in the street or at the shops seems to generate a “hello” and my goodness, doesn’t it make you feel good!? I put it down to summer, the weather isn’t bad and holidays are on everyone’s mind so lots to be happy about. There also might be a measure of trying to forget that we live in quite a troubled world and the news can be depressing so let’s just live for the day! Whatever it is, I hope it lasts!

July brings hedgerows heavy with berries, fennel to liven up salads and lots more including aubergines and courgettes. Cherries and peaches are at their best and the glorious gooseberry is here. The poor gooseberry doesn’t get a good press and it’s hard to find them, even in farm shops. But there are wonderful recipes using this vitamin C-rich fruit; poached gooseberries with a creamy vanilla custard, gooseberry compote which is super used in cakes or to top a cheesecake, gooseberry jam or the very delicious gooseberry fool. Take 400g gooseberries and cook with 50g sugar over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until soft. Remove from the heat, crush and cool. Pour two tablespoons of elderflower cordial and 1tbsp lemon juice into 400ml double cream and whisk to medium peaks. Add 4 tablespoons of ready-made custard. Fold half the gooseberries into the mixture. Spoon half into four glasses. Layer the rest of the gooseberries, then top with the rest of the cream mix. Chill until ready to serve. You’ll love it!

Also in shops is new-season lamb (the best is from Kent). Lamb breast is a great make-ahead meal – slow cooking turns a cheap cut into a luxury. Tom Kerridge’s breast of lamb with broccoli, anchovy and caper dressing is lovely!

The Greeks and Romans are returning! Stretch Didcot’s Roman Festival at the Didcot Girls School on Saturday, 7th July (10.30am-5pm) will have more than 20 different experts and events, including me! Tickets are a fantastic £4.

Visit www.christinebakes.co.uk and please get in touch!

Have you tried a TFKC?

Round & About

Food & Recipes

Malaysian, Portuguese and a sprinkling of London sophistication is what inspires the cusine created by husband and wife team Test Kitchen Food, writes Rachel Wakefield

The Test Kitchen van has been seducing late night drinkers, near the Windsor and Eton Brewery, for more than a year now. It’s also been turning heads every Saturday morning near the Loading Bay Cafe, with its tasty, cooked-to-order food.

It’s easy to understand why – just talking to owner, Milly O’Connor about what she serves is beyond distracting. Take for example, the popular Super Bon Bon: marinated pork loin, in paprika, garlic and thyme, grilled and served with melted cheese, fried mushrooms and a garlic aioli sauce, in a ciabatta roll. Or, the TKFC: deboned chicken thighs, marinated in mirin sauce, soy sauce, garlic and ginger, then covered in sweet potato flour, deep fried and finished with a maple syrup and soy glaze, with a spiracha dip. In my mouth!

Milly and her husband John, who is the chef, met through a mutual love of food. She was managing the Kensington restaurant and nightclub, Dirty Bones, he was a cook at Fulham’s Malthouse. They both have interesting foodie heritages, he’s from Portugal and her mother is Malaysian.

“I was nine months pregnant when we bought the food truck,” recalls Milly. We had just moved back to my home town of Windsor, as we had made a decision to bring up our son Salvador here. “We had this idea to bring the London, foodie sophistication in the neighbourhood.”

It has not taken John long to establish good relationships, with his main supplier being the Royal Windsor Farm Shop. “Our menu is based on good, local, seasonal produce and Tony, the butcher always delivers from there,” says Milly.

“We called the business Test Kitchen Food, because we wanted to be flexible in the food we offered. Not sticking to one style of cuisine.”

The adventurous pair will be curating a foodie event on Friday, 25th May, called Hawkers Bazaar. This event is inspired by the vibrant night markets and hawker centres of Malaysia. It will take place at the Loading Bay Cafe, Vansittart Estate, Windsor SL4 1SE. It will be a showcase of local talent including an experimental cocktail truck, an exotic ice cream roll trader, lots of authentic hawker style food plus local musicians performing late into the night. Tickets available to book online, visit: www.eventbrite.co.uk

To keep up-to-date with what’s cooking in the kitchen, take a look on the Facebook page @testkitchenfood.