belinda jeffery's news and events
I absolutely love winter. Although I know some people loathe the cold weather, we live in the sub-tropics so we savour these few months of crisp days and clear, icy nights. I don’t mind at all that I’m sitting here rugged up with a scarf, extra jumper, and rather chilly fingers - I wouldn’t have it any other way! (Anyhow, my fingers are often cold, even when the rest of me is warm, and it always used to bother me until a friend clutched my hands in his one day, and smiled gently at me as he said ‘Cold hands, warm heart’. What could be more lovely.)
I also love this cold spell because it’s the right weather for comfort food; that wonderful fare that nourishes the spirit as much as it does the body. My mum’s smoked fish pie gets a regular workout – its tender chunks of smoked cod topped by a billowy cloud of mash that gently soothes and smooths many of the lumps and bumps of the day. Lamb shanks also made a regular appearance, and just a waft of them cooking takes me back to my childhood home, and that feeling of coming in from school, cold and hungry, to the heady aroma of red wine and herbs as they bubbled gently on the cooktop. And of course there was always pudding; more specifically, steamed pudding. My mum was a complete whiz at whipping these up – tangy marmalade, chocolate with a gooey chocolate sauce, and apple and cinnamon all featured, however my favourite of all was an impossibly fragrant, golden syrup-topped, ginger steamed pudding. It was truly grand - a golden dome of sticky goodness laced with tiny chunks of glace ginger, all bathed in egg-rich homemade custard. It was to die for!
My husband has different memories – his mum’s roast pork, its crackling so crisp that it shattered as he bit into it; and her renowned apple pie (which I was fortunate enough to try) so laden with slices of Bramleys and Cox’s Orange Pippins that the sticky juices would leave rivulets in the pastry. She always made pastry not just with butter, but lard too, which made it incredibly crisp and short.
How I love this opportunity to savour, albeit briefly, these old favourites, and to enjoy the memories they conjure. So of course, there are no prizes for guessing that this month’s recipe is for one such dish – Shepherd’s Pie. Mum would often make it on a Monday night to use up leftover roast lamb from Sunday’s lunch. She would painstakingly put it through the meat grinder (with me standing alongside ready to pounce on any delicious little morsels that might escape the mincer), then mix it with the leftover gravy, roast vegetables and peas from the roast. I can clearly remember the way my fork would sink through the gold-flecked crust, down through the fluffy potatoes and on into the tender meat bathed in its savoury sauce. It was my idea of heaven! These days I ever-so slightly spice it up, and use minced lamb so I can make it a bit more frequently, however I’ve tried not to muck around with the recipe too much, as I think some dishes are best left just as is. And on that note, I shall say goodbye until next month.
P.S. I have just confirmed a number of NEW CLASSES for later in the year. If you are interested in attending, details are below.
To see more of what I’m up to, you can follow me on Instagram.
Upcoming Cooking Classes, Events & News
Saturday 13th August SOLD OUT
I taught for the first time at Kitchen to Table last year, and I'm so glad to be returning to this lovely shop and cooking school in Yamba. This is an intimate demonstration class (read much chat and laughter!) where I'll put together a simple but delicious lunch using local ingredients. (BTW, I have a new cookbook coming out in October 2016 so you may well get a sneak peek at a recipe or two from it!).
For bookings and enquiries for this class, please contact www.kitchentotable.com.au, or phone them on 02 6646 1577.
Sunday 14th August
ADDITIONAL CLASS! YAMBA. I’ve just heard that Saturday’s class has booked out, however I shall be teaching another class on Sunday 14th August. It would be great to see you there.
Wednesday 24th August
This hands-on class is my second for the year at Lismore's fabulous Pepper Tree Kitchen cookware shop and cooking school. I must admit, I haven't sorted out exactly what we shall be doing yet.sorry! However, we'll be focusing on using beautiful local produce to create a fabulous casual menu. For bookings and enquiries, please contact the Pepper Tree Kitchen at www.peppertreekitchen.com.au and click on the link to their classes. You can also phone Helen on 02 6622 0180.
Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September
They’ve been under wraps for a long while, but I’m thrilled to announce that I shall be teaching two baking classes at Tamsin Carvan’s beautiful farm cooking school, Tamsin’s Table. I’m so happy and excited about these classes. On Saturday we shall be baking cakes, and Sunday is an exclusive pastry class. Please do come and join us for one (or both!) days. For more information go to www.tamsinstable.com.au
23rd & 24th September
I'm pinching myself that I'm returning again to the wonderful Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School in Tasmania to teach two more baking classes on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th of September. (At this stage the classes are full however there is a waiting list in case of cancellations). This beautiful school is one of my all-time favourite places to teach, and their holistic paddock-to-plate philosophy resonates strongly with me. Their website is really lovely and I highly recommend a visit...I rather suspect that, like me, you will be hooked once you read it! www.theagrariankitchen.com
As I do just once a year, I shall be teaching at the renowned Accoutrement Cooking School in Sydney on Tuesday 18th October @ 6.30pm, to coincide with the release of my latest cookbook on Salads. For booking enquiries, go to the Cooking School page at www.accoutrement.com.au
25th, 26th, 27th October
Hooray! I’m coming back up to Brisbane to teach 3 more baking classes with the super-talented Jocelyn Hancock at her lovely bakery, Cake & Bake. We loved cooking together earlier in the year, and decided that we should do some classes with Christmas in mind. Please join us for a glass or two of champagne, lots of baking tips, and of course, plenty of delicious cakes and pastries to try! If you would like to make a booking, contact Cake & Bake on (07) 3844 1088
4th & 5th November
To celebrate the launch of my new book, The Salad Book, I shall be teaching two classes at the very lovely Sauce Kitchen in Toowoomba www.thesaucekitchen.com.au. I have never taught here before, and I’m greatly looking forward to visiting and teaching in this wonderful-looking shop and cooking school. For bookings, go to their website.
I think there's nothing nicer than both giving and receiving handmade gifts for Christmas. There is just something so special about knowing that someone has put all that TLC into making you something, so I thought it would be a lovely time of year to do a class on simple but gorgeous edible gifts. For bookings and enquiries, please contact the Pepper Tree Kitchen at www.peppertreekitchen.com.au and click on the link to their classes. You can also phone Helen on 02 6622 0180.
If you would like to watch me making Asparagus and Goat’s Cheese Tarts on The Morning Show, follow this link...http://au.tv.yahoo.com/video/watch/25322696/springtime-asparagus-tarts/
My favourite charity
Just A Drop - www.justadrop.org
My lovely sister-in-law, Fiona Jeffery, started this international water aid charity in 1998 when she learnt that less than $2 can deliver clean water to a child for up to 10 years. From this knowledge, and her passion and commitment, Just a Drop was born, based on the premise that if people can be encouraged to give a little then collectively we can make a huge difference. I’m so proud of all she has achieved over the years and encourage you to visit the site and see the fantastic work they do.
Favourite websites & blogs