Here it is at last, our brunch menu for next weekend. I’ve been really enjoying cooking with seaweed recently, so that is making a headline appearance, along with lovely winter veg, new season Kent rhubarb, last season’s pickles and some glorious local seafood. We’re bringing back the Ruby Chai Bloody Mary, because it was a fiery hit and there will be tea pairings with every course, once Debonair Tea Company’s tea sommelier, Louisa, has had a chance to wrap her head around the menu. More than half the tickets have gone already, so book soon.
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
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
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
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
- 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.
We did it! Our first brunch at our East Cliff HQ. It was an absolute joy. We had 26 guests: 6 plant-based menus, 14 pescatarian and 6 children (all under 5 so our 2 year old was so excited to have all these new friends to hang out with!).
It was a bit of an experiment in lots of ways – we borrowed benches from ]performance s p a c e[ who are always incredibly generous, did tons of crockery research, decided it was all too expensive and just when we were beginning to think we might have to serve the food directly onto the table, found that Asda do a perfectly respectable basics range. We would have loved to stick to our ethos of local sourcing on this one but for our first event, the budget was just not going to stretch!
The menu was a combination of new ideas and things we have tested in the past. I love using fresh nettles – I’ve previously made a delicious nettle gnocchi – and I knew it was a tad early but didn’t realise quite what a mission Peter would have to go on to find them! There is another low-growing weed that seems to take over the areas you’d expect to see nettles around here. I keep meaning to find out what it is, I thought it was ground elder at first but the leaves are different… anyway, I digress. The Folkestone Downs finally came up trumps and our nettle porridge was back on track.
We’ve also had a play with making vegan ‘eggs’ before using a vegan ‘gelatine’ based on carrageenan (a kind of seaweed). Previously we made little ‘fried eggs’ for a curry-based dish, so the egg white was a jelly made with coconut milk and the yolk was half a yellow cherry tomato. This time, I wanted to make boiled ‘eggs’ to go with baked wild mushroom polenta, so for the white I made a fennel puree, added gelatine and set it in little easter egg moulds! The runny yolk was a carrot and tomato chutney.
We got Whitstable oysters (for the Bloody Marys) and delicious Folkestone scallops (for the pescatarian version of the nettle porridge) from Folkestone Trawlers. On the way down to collect them at 7am, I picked gorse flowers from the Cliff to go with the porridge. The sense of ‘place’ in these dishes is really exciting for me. The kippers were from Griggs in Hythe where they do their own brunch menu that you can eat in or take out onto the beach. I went to collect my order with our little one in tow and they gave him a free smoked salmon bagel because he has one of those cute chubby faces you can’t say no to! I met Louisa from Debonair Tea there as well, since she is based in Hythe, to pick up the beautiful loose leaf tea that she had helped us pair with each course. I think there needs to be a whole blog post dedicated to cooking with tea and matching tea to food – perhaps I’ll ask Louisa to do a guest post..?
All our vegetables were from East Kent, mostly from Walmestone Growers, Nethergong Nurseries and their neighbours. I loved the squash puree made with roasted Acorn and Red Kuri squashes, garlic, Kent rapeseed oil and nothing else – super sweet, but our favourite was the beetroot syrup, just a simple sugar syrup made with beetroot juice, but the flavour was so earthy and intense – perfect against the greek yoghurt, fresh mint and yeasty pikelets. I pinched the idea from a very talented friend and barman Chris Lacey-Malvern at whose bar I recently tasted one of his many insanely good cocktails containing beetroot syrup.
Having it in our front room felt like such a good decision, it was cosy and intimate, everyone sat on tables together and there was a beautiful sense of community, loads of chat about everyone’s love of Folkestone. Best not to mention all the washing up that took us a couple of days to plough through…
So much more I could tell you – did you see the little video in instagram of the tea infusing in the vodka for the Bloody Marys?! – but the pictures will give you an idea.
Join us for a THREE COURSE BRUNCH in a secret new location on 3rd February 2018 at 11am
East Cliff Kitchen presents their alter-ego, East Cliff Dining Club, through which we make secret (and not-so-secret) eating events which celebrate seasonal and local ingredients from Folkestone, Kent.
Our 3 course brunch menu includes pescatarian and plant-based options, as well as a special children’s menu, all designed around the beautiful food available right now in East Kent. We’ve also teamed up with the incredible Debonair Tea Company from Hythe to bring you tea pairings for each course and a complimentary tea-infused cocktail!
We can’t wait to welcome you to this new venue for the first time, just a few minutes walk from the harbour, you’ll be right in the heart of our family, sharing food at a table with a small number of other food lovers. This is no restaurant experience – it is a true exaltation, eating wonderful food together right here where the food was made. We will email you the address on the day before the event.
£20 per adult
£6 per child
we ask for 50% deposit on adult tickets when you book and the rest on the day.
Please let us know if you have any allergies or other dietary requirements – we’ll do our best to make sure you get the same yummy food as everyone else!
East Cliff Kitchen is a foodie celebration of the best of local Kentish ingredients. We are convinced that – as well as being a more responsible way to eat – sustainable, high-welfare, low-mileage food just tastes better! Here on Folkestone’s East Cliff, we are completely spoiled. On the one side we have the English Channel (on a clear day we can see France) and on the other, the Garden of England so we have our pick of incredible seafood and delicious fruit and vegetables all year round. As East Cliff Dining Club, we host supper clubs, foodie parties and create bespoke events for local organisations including Folkestone Fringe and the Folkestone Triennial.