So it's over to Nellie:
I don’t think I ever had real intentions to start my own cooking school. Some things in life just happen. Some unknown force steers us in a certain direction. Sometimes we are thrilled for this and other times not so but every day that I wake up, I am so very grateful that my unknown force steered me towards Relish Mama (I also take my hat off to a girlfriend and my husband who gave me the final nudge. Not sure if it was a poke, a kick up the back side or a nudge but whatever it was, I am forever grateful).
To say I love food and all that it encompasses is an understatement. Food is so much more than what we are simply putting in to our mouth. The enjoyment of food and being around a table with those we love engages all of our five senses and there aren’t too many things we do each day that switch on all of our senses – this is a big part of the magic. I am not a chef and never have been. I am a very passionate cook who cares deeply about food, where it comes from, why and when it is at its best and how to use ingredients to give everyone the most pleasure. I like to think of my recipes as relaxed. I don’t ‘do’ food that is uptight very well and I wonder where the fun was when that dish was prepared. I love to cook food that can be shared rather than looked at in awe (I was never good at art). I know a few might roll their eyes at this but for me, food tastes so much better when it is cooked with love, when it is cooked with thought and with fun.
I am a Mother to three darling girls. Life seems to get busier each year our daughters grow. When I am not teaching at Relish Mama, I am at our family table; I am where I love to be most in the world. When a meal is shared at our table or around our bench, the hectic pace stops. Not only do we enjoy the food and it’s many flavours but we stop and enjoy each other and all of the things that make us a family.
Our cooking classes at Relish Mama started early in 2009. We have been so fortunate to have received strong support and recommendations from the Press, the food industry but most importantly, from our students, both young and old. Many come back again and again and this is a wonderful thing. As we have grown, we have introduced some very talented Chef’s and cooks who are now very hands on with the teaching and menu planning at Relish Mama. We are proud to say that our cooking class schedule offers a class for everyone. We have one of the most diverse ranges of cooking classes schedules on offer in Melbourne. Throughout the year, most of our classes are for adults, mainly running of an evening and can be held as a one off class or in a series. We also host private cooking class events for Corporate groups, hens events and special birthdays. During the school holidays and on some weekends, we open the doors to some very special kids for our hands-on children’s seasonal workshops. We have been cooking with some of these same children since they were four and they come back to learn more and expand their knowledge and skills each term. These fun kids classes kick off again next week when we will be teaching summer seasonal classes for ages 6-11+ as well as a vibrant and delicious Mexican fiesta for teens and tweens.
One of the dishes that will be enjoyed as a little treat to end the seasonal summer class is this Eton mess. Strawberries are at their best right now and although they are true stars served just as they are, whipping up Eton Mess is delightfully simple and truly delicious ; it never fails to please. Everybody loves strawberries and cream and with the addition of meringues that are hard on the exterior and soft and wonderful on the inside, there’s even more to love.
I hope you all enjoy this dessert and wishing all of Helen’s ‘little by little’ readers and customers a truly wonderful 2013. I hope your year is lots of fun and that your table is filled often with all of those whom you love.
Strawberry Eton Mess Serves 6
1 ½ ups of lightly whipped cream
3 cups of strawberries or use a mix of strawberries and raspberries
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
6 large meringues (store bought or recipe to make your own is below)
Half the strawberries or thickly slice any extra large ones. Put in a large bowl with the raspberries (if using) and coat with the sugar. Give a good mix by hand or spoon as you really do want the berries to break down / macerate. Cover & place in fridge to macerate for an hour.
Lightly whip your cream and store in the fridge.
To assemble, break the meringues into large pieces and then fold in the whipped cream. Gently fold in the chilled berries. It should just be rippled together rather than perfectly blended. Pile in to glasses or small bowls and serve.
You can make this up to an hour in advance but any more than that and your meringue will be soggy.
To make your own meringues:
3 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
Preheat oven to 120oC.In a very clean & dry stainless steel or copper bowl, whisk your egg whites (I use electric beaters) until they hold soft peaks. Now add half od the sugar and whisk to blend well with the egg whites. Add the rest of your sugar and whisk until the mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Dollop (or pipe) tablespoons of the meringue mixture on the baking trays. Place in the oven for 90 minutes and then remove from the oven and gently turn the meringues upside down to cook a further 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely.Meringues store very well in an airtight container and away from heat and moisture.
Thank you so much Nellie for your wonderful insight to your wonderful world of food and your amazing recipe! For booking and details please click here!