This week is horrendously busy, and next week will be even more. I live just outside Henley on Thames, where there is a regatta (next week) which draws crews from all over the world. They stay in houses all round the district, and I have put up crews for years.
This year, we have Newport Aquatic Center from California - and one of the team is a very distant cousin (this fact discovered a year or two ago by his uncle and my father, in a huge coincidence which may be too complicated to explain here). Next week they will be joined by London Rowing Club, who have stayed here for a number of years, and won the Thames Cup from the house. I give them breakfast (cereal, toast, juice, fruit, yoghurt), and dinner.
So there's a lot of cooking going on here, great volumes of food for hungry rowers. It's not exactly according to our rules, but not far from it. The main difference is that they eat meat most nights, I haven't given them fish or a veggie meal. So it's mince in various guises, chicken pieces, stews, and, tonight, braised lamb shanks. I give them two or three vegetables to go with their main course, which is how we normally eat. Pudding is either fruit or something I've made involving fruit.
A couple of nights ago there were some strawberries slightly past their best. So I made them into a sponge pudding (Nick, the coach, said he would have called it a cobbler ... I wouldn't quite, although it's in the same area). It was good, the sponge was - by mistake - cooked very slowly, which gave it a toffeeish stickiness that made one or two people think I'd used almonds.
Two punnets of strawberries
a little sugar
the juice of a lemon
Three medium eggs & their weight in sugar, flour, and Flora
Put the strawberries into a saucepan with a little sugar and the lemon juice. Heat through until it all looks glossy. You don't need to cook the fruit, because it will soften as the sponge cooks. Pour them into a well-greased shallow ovenproof dish.
Weigh the eggs (this method is child's play if you use a balance scale, and only slightly more complicated if you don't). Break them into a mixing bowl, and add their weight of sugar, flour and Flora. Beat vigorously until the mixture pales in colour. If you beat it this hard you do not need to use a raising agent (and I don't bother even when I'm making a Victoria sponge cake in this way). Pour this over the strawberries and bake for half an hour in a coolish oven, say 160C. Test with a skewer, or press the middle gently.
This is good hot or cold. If you're eating it hot, it's advisable to leave it to stand for a few minutes, so that you don't burn your tongue on the strawberries.
Delicious. A lovely summer treat, especially for the sort of summer we're having (cold, wet - blah blah whinge whinge). You could use any sort of fruit (I've got some apples no-one seems interested in eating, so I'll make it with those, but I'll have to cook them through properly before covering them with the sponge). This is really good and easy for a crowd. The amounts I've given here would be good for 8-10 people, but you could easily increase or decrease it - just weigh the ingredients against the eggs, and make sure there's enough sponge mix to cover the fruit (it rises a bit, so you need to spread it fairly thin).
Oh, and I forgot to say, Alfred is playing in a cricket tournament at Eton this week, so I had to make time to watch him. The final is going on right now (can't go, got to see the crew in the qualifying races for the main regatta - they're a long way from home, so need all the vocal support they can get!). Here he is bowling, doing that little skip thing that slow bowlers often do.
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