A great culinary Jubilee weekend

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SO what did you do for the Jubilee weekend? Personally I enjoyed having a four day weekend and having a theme in which to set what I was doing despite the traditional British bank holiday weather.

Such events give us an excuse to go the extra mile, let our hair down and enjoy the time off work.

James Perry at the Chipping Norton food festival

James Perry at the Chipping Norton food festival

As I said it also gives us a theme and I like to embrace it as inspiration for cooking. How often do we actually pull something quintessentially British out of the bag “not to often” so I tried to do just that with a Jubilee themed picnic, including a traditional Victoria sponge cake with fresh strawberry’s that had been macerated in icing sugar and a little cherry vinegar and topped with fresh vanilla whipped cream which was amazing.

I hadn’t made one since I was a kid and I don’t know why. Everybody enjoyed it and it was so easy.

Also as a Jubilee themed Sunday lunch I roasted a shoulder of mutton and made a traditional Eaton mess.

Safe to say I had a great culinary Jubilee weekend and was particularly proud of traditional British cuisine by the end of it, so I would love to see some pictures of what you made this bank holiday weekend and judging by the empty shelves where strawberries and cream are kept in the supermarkets I know I’m not the only one that has been playing in the kitchen.

Also this past week saw a couple of food festivals take place in particular one in Chipping Norton that I went to and did a demo at. A great day seemed to be had by all and there was some amazing produce available, including a selection of botanically infused vinegars in flavours from cherry to bay, juniper and lime.

I tasted all of them of course and even included the cherry vinegar in my demo of pain perdu with orange chantilly and macerated fruits.

It went very well and people seemed to enjoy it. Also demonstrations were done by food writer William Sitwell and wild thyme head chef Nick Pullen showing a masterclass in pasta making.

I really enjoy this trend for food festivals and there are some great events held across the country, one of these is very close by in Olney. The big Olney food festival returns this year on the weekend of September 15 and promises to be a fun day out for all the family.

I like to finish a column with a recipe so here is my recipe for a classic Victoria sponge cake.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

200g eggs

200g unsalted butter (diced)

200g self raising flour

200g golden caster sugar

10g vanilla extract

4g baking powder

For the cream:

150g double cream

150g whipping cream

30g icing sugar

The seeds from one vanilla pod

For the fruits:

400g ripe strawberries (quartered)

15g icing sugar

10g balsamic vinegar

Method:

Line two 7 inch sandwich tins with greaseproof paper

pre heat the oven to 170ºc

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl mix together with an electric hand whisk until the mixture turns almost white or if doing by hand beat together the sugar and butter then add the eggs and flour and mix well. Add the rest of the cake ingredients and whisk until almost white.

Divide the cake batter between the two tins and smooth the top with a wet hand. Bake the two cakes for 35 minutes or until a knife pushed into the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cakes from there tins and leave to completely cool on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile remove the stalk from the strawberries and cut each into 4 pieces then place in a small mixing bowl.

Add the sugar and vinegar to the strawberries and mix very well until the sugar has dissolved then set aside in the fridge.

To make the cream add both to a mixing bowl with the sugar and vanilla seeds then whisk until just passed soft peaks. If you over whip the cream add two tablespoons of milk to it and stir it through.

To assemble the cake use a bread knife to cut the peak off one of the sponges then spread two thirds of the cream on top of it. Spoon the strawberries and some of the juice onto the cream.

Turn the other sponge upside down and spread the remaining cream on to that then place that cake cream side down on top.

Sieve some icing sugar over the cake and serve with a chilled glass of sparkling wine or even better a nice cuppa.

> Tattooed Cook James Perry writes regularly for Milton Keynes Citizen.

He can be also found on Twitter @Thetattooedcook or on his website, The Tattooed Cook.