Thursday, January 28, 2010

To the tea

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, or so the old Billie Ocean song goes. I'm not exactly sure what he means, but at the same time I think that's what I've been doing for the last two weeks. If someone had told me this time last year that I'd be blogging, writing features and styling food shoots on top of my day job, plus training for a half-marathon, I would have looked at them as if they'd grown an extra nose.

But that's life I guess. One minute you're moping about, thinking nothing fabulous is ever going to happen to you, and then the universe overhears and throws more good stuff your way than you know what to do with (and whispers to itself, 'That should shut her up!').
Today I'd like to share a food shoot I did for Psychologies magazine SA (February/March 2010) a few months ago. Good friend and photographer Deryck van Steenderen took the images.

One of the quirks of high tea is that it does not (necessarily) have anything to do with tea – sophisticated eats are the stars of the show. Delicate chicken sandwiches, sumptuous strawberry mousse, elegant goat’s cheese quiches and, of course, irresistibly decorated cupcakes all beg to be savoured. Invite a few girlfriends over, put the kettle on (or open a bottle of wine) and indulge in an afternoon of pure hedonism.

I've entered these recipes in the Fun & Food Café's Valentine's Day / Superbowl competition. Wish me luck.

White chocolate cupcakes
Makes 12

180g butter, plus 140g for the icing
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
500g white chocolate, chopped
1 cup cream

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Combine the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Add the eggs and beat well.
Add the flour and baking powder and combine.
Line 12 muffin tins with cupcake cases, and divide the mixture between the cases. Bake for 35 minutes or until cooked, and allow to cool.
For the icing: In a saucepan, heat the chocolate, cream and remaining butter on a low heat, and stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Allow to cool completely.
Beat the icing until thick and fluffy, and decorate cupcakes as desired.

Smoked chicken sandwiches
Serves 6

3/4 cup mayonnaise, plus extra for brushing
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
500g smoked chicken breast, finely shredded
24 slices white bread
70g baby salad leaves
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted

Combine the mayonnaise, mustard and chicken. Spread the mixture over half the bread slices.
Top with the salad leaves and remaining bread slices.
Remove the crusts and cut each sandwich diagonally in half.
Spread a little mayonnaise on one edge of each sandwich and dip into the sesame seeds. Arrange on
a platter and serve.

Strawberry mousse
Makes 8

300g fresh, ripe strawberries, halved
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
1 tsp gelatin
2 cups thick cream, whipped

Place the strawberries in a medium saucepan, add the sugar and water, and cook over a medium-low heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.
Simmer until the strawberries are soft, then liquidise the mixture with the gelatin until smooth. Allow to cool. Fold the syrup into the cream and pour into eight 125ml serving glasses. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set. Decorate with strawberry slices and serve.
Tip: Any fresh, ripe berries can be used in place of strawberries.

Chevin and chive quiches
Makes 12

3 sheets shortcrust pastry
150g chevin, crumbled
40g chives, chopped
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups cream
1 tsp lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. On a baking tray covered with baking paper, line 12 greased egg rings with pastry (gently push the pastry into the rings so that the edges rise slightly).
Trim any excess, and place the chevin and chives in the cases.
Whisk the egg yolks, cream and zest together, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pour the egg mixture into the cases, bake for 20 minutes or until golden, and serve.


  1. I've been crazily baking batches of cupcakes for two weeks now, so I'm stoked to see another recipe to try and de-glutenise :-)

    Great pics - especially love the mousse and koppie-koekies!

  2. Beautiful pictures! Those quiches look absolutely divine...

  3. love this recipes and the pictures are really nice too... ;)

  4. The photoshoot is awesome! I will be thrilled to shoot for a magazine one day!

  5. Thanks for visitng my blog!!

    Tea looks awwwwwesome!!!

    I will try out some of these and let you know how they turn out...hope they are half as good as your pics look!!!

  6. that spread could win you many oohs and aahs! these look awesome! and they'd be perfect for my Valentine day giveaway! would you care to send them in for the event?

  7. What lovely photos and recipes!!

    I just came across your blog. I adore it!

  8. Good luck on the competition!! Every single dish looks fantastic, especially the mousse!! Wow.

  9. yum! all those dishes look lovely & dainty!

  10. I saw your quiche recipe on Petit Chef and it looks terrific. However, I'm not familiar with Chevin. Is it a cheese and what could I substitute in the US? Thanks so much. Your photographs are gorgeous.

  11. What gorgeous photos - and delicious recipes! love the way you served the strawberry mousse :)

  12. Hi Sam. In SA we call goat's cheese chevin. Don't ask me why! So you could use any ol' goats cheese :-)

  13. Hello

    the strawberry mousee, can it be made in iSi gourmet whip professional machine?
    It is just it makes better cream. If you know, let me know please.
    thank you.