Cooking for and with artists (plus a vegan pudding recipe)

I often cook for Folkestone Fringe.  We have a kind of shared view of the joy of coming together over dinner and our ethos of sustainable, local sourcing and supporting the community we work in runs in parallel with their approach to working with artists. They have

A ‘Gateway’ dinner for Folkestone Fringe in The Urban Room in September 2017

also supported me in my ‘other life’ as an artist (although I am working hard to fuse this all together into one practice!), enabling me to create a show during last year’s Triennial about feminism and place/space (The Architecture of Anxiety). So lots in common.

Folkestone Fringe asked me to cook for a group of thirty artists and curators connected by a new trans-European artist residency programme, Magic Carpets, and brought together on the Harbour Arm on Monday after a week of working together in Folkestone. I put together a menu of modern British food (locally sourced of course) that I hope created a real sense of where they were, both in terms of geography and time/season: Smoked Haddock with fresh parsley vinaigrette and gorse flowers or miso roasted cauliflo

Max (half of Sheaf and Barley) cooking the kale

wer with flaked almonds, both on a bed of puy lentils and pearl barley with dulse infused Kale.

This was followed by a classic, the upside down pudding – but this one was made with pear and ginger and was completely vegan.  It was served with almond yoghurt or creme fraiche.

The wonderful duo Sheaf and Barley were there, these two are beautiful creatures with such a  connection to the ground, the sea and folk, to share food with them is always enriching.  To have them in the kitchen with me was an unexpected pleasure.  It’s reminded me more than ever how important the community around food is – the spaces you make to share food or to share together around food… February is turning out to be a month of thinking.

I think best whilst I’m making something and the new discovery of this meal was this recipe for a vegan upside-down pudding – definitely the kind of dessert I was happy to serve to vegans and non-vegans alike, which is what I aim for. So I thought I’d share it. The only downside is that the flavour of the rapeseed oil builds over time, so I recommend eating it the same day as you cook it (no great hardship!).  You could definitely make it as a cake, but it tastes best warmed up and served with yoghurt or creme fraiche (almond yoghurt if you don’t eat dairy).

VEGAN PEAR & GINGER UPSIDE-DOWN PUDDING

The upside down pudding, upside down! Cooling and waiting to be flipped.

INGREDIENTS:

For the topping:

  • 4-5 Pears (ripe but not too mushy)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 100g Vitalite or Pure (dairy-free) marg
  • 100g muscovado (soft brown) sugar
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup or the syrup from a jar of stem ginger
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped stem ginger

For the sponge:

  • 350ml rice milk
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 110ml rapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 3 tbsp corn flour
  • 1 tbsp dried ginger
  • 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 slightly heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt

METHOD:

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees centigrade (350 fahrenheit)
  • Grease and line a 9 inch square or round cake tin
  • Half fill a large bowl with cold water and add the lemon juice.
  • Peel and slice the pears, dropping the slices immediately into the water to avoid browning.
  • Melt the margarine in a small pan over a low heat and add the brown sugar.  Stir till dissolved, then add the syrup and pour into the cake tin – spread right across base.
  • Dry off the pear slices on some kitchen roll or a clean tea towel and lay in overlapping rows on top of the sugar/syrup mix.  Sprinkle over the stem ginger.
  • Whisk the vinegar into the rice milk and let it stand for 5 minutes
  • Meanwhile, sift the flour, corn flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the caster sugar and vanilla extract to the rice milk and whisk it till you get a bit of froth on the surface then add this to the dry ingredients (make sure you don’t leave any sugar behind).  Whisk it all together till the flour is all combined into the liquid and then pour (very carefully and slowly so as not to dislodge the pear slices!) into the cake tin.
  • Stick it in the oven for approx 35 mins (till a skewer comes out clean)
  • When it has cooled a little, flip the whole thing over using a plate or chopping board and peel the greaseproof paper off carefully.

 

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