Jane Curran is the Editor of Feel Good Food Magazine and the Food Editor on Woman and Home. I’ve known Jane for about 10 years now. I can’t believe it’s that long but it’s true. She came to work at Woman and Home while I was on maternity leave with Beau. I was lucky enough to sit opposite her at the magazine’s offices and let me tell you as a baker sitting opposite the food editor is a GOOD thing! Apart from the fact that she would need dishes to be ‘taste tested’, she is a font of all knowledge and I used to grill her all the time! I was lucky enough to be able to interview Jane at this busy time of year.
How did you get into cooking and baking?
Because my Mum could burn water and was an atrocious cook! Then I went to France when I was ten and fell in love with great food.
Who inspires you most in the cooking arena and why?
Probably Simon Hopkinson whose accuracy, attention to detail and sheer brilliance as a (former) chef and writer makes me think I can achieve anything. He also rekindles my love of classic French food. But I also admire Yotam Ottolenghi for his fabulous flavour combinations.
What’s your favorite cook/ baking book?
There are many but I love Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries I and II. Great cook books are as much for me about the writing as they are about the food.
How did you come to be at Woman & Home / Feel Good Food ?
I had worked for the Editorial Director years before as her food editor, so when the vacancy came up she gave me a ring! We launched FGF together 6 years ago.
How long have you worked at FGF?
We launched it as a one-off magazine for Christmas 2006 and it did so well we just kept going! Now we produce six a year.
What does your job entail?
The whole package from recipe development, design concepts, photography, content and commissioning extra features such as table inspiration or gadgets. And being my own PR and marketing machine!
What’s the best part of your job?
Working as a small team to bring out the best and most beautiful magazine we can.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Anything which involves admin!
What recipe should we be making from the latest issue of FGF?
Make the cover recipe – it’s super simple, delicious and looks great – how food should be. (EmmaMT here- this recipe is will be in the very next post! Check it out)
Have you had any big baking disasters?
I did “lose” a rich and sticky chocolate cake which slid off its base to the floor on the way to the table. And failed 3 times to make a simple Victoria sponge in the test kitchen until I finally realised that a freelancer had put plain flour in the self-raising flour container…Oh and I tried to make macaroons on a boiling hot day – the humidity just made them collapse when they came out of the oven!
Will you be cooking this Christmas?
We are 12 this year and are round at my sister’s house – she has a huge table. I am doing the starter (gravadlax with home made rye soda bread), the cheese (actually that’s Harry, my husband’s job as he is the expert) and pudding (traditional Christmas pud plus a frozen chocolate and mocha parfait with salted praline). I am leaving the turkey to her!
Where’s your favorite place to go out to eat?
This does change on a regular basis but as a treat, it’s currently Trullo in Highbury which is the most fantastic Italian restaurant. We have never had a bad meal there, the staff and service are faultless – their food is what Italian food should be; the simplest but the best ingredients put together with care and love.
What kitchen gadget could you not live without and why?
I would have to say my Santoku knife – without a great knife I just can’t chop!
What’s your favorite dinner party meal and dessert?
Hard question for such a greedy person, but possibly spaghetti alla vongole for a starter or main and a classic lemon tart with raspberries and passion fruit cream.
What’s your guilty food pleasure?
Heinz tomato soup with loads of grated Cheddar in it – my poorly comfort food!
Are you a Tea or coffee drinker?
Both. I am a Nespresso addict in the morning then my addiction moves on to Twining’s Earl Grey tea after 11am.
Check out Jane’s White Chocolate cheesecake recipe in the next blog post. It’s perfect for Christmas as she says!
After interviewing Jane Curran she kindly gave me permission to share with you her delicious recipe for White chocolate cheese cake taken from the Christmas issue of Feel Good Food
. A winner on any Christmas table I’m sure! Over to Jane…..
White chocolate cheesecake
Looks rich and decadent but it’s as light as a feather, and so very simple to make! Add the glam touch with white chocolate curls and gold dragees, and that ultimate Christmas sparkle – edible gold glitter!
Preparation time: 25 minutes,plus chilling
for the crust
- 165g (5½oz) digestive biscuits, crushed
- 65g (2½oz) butter, melted
for the filling
- 6 leaves gelatine
- 500g (1lb 2oz) half-fat crème fraîche
- 100g (4oz) caster sugar
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- 100g (4oz) white chocolate, chopped
- 250g (9oz) ricotta cheese
- chocolate curls, gold dragees and edible glitter, to decorate (from cake decorating specialists)
- you will need
- 18cm (7in) springform cake tin,
- lightly oiled
1 Mix together the biscuits and butter, then press into the base of the tin. Pop into the freezer while you make the filling.
2 Soak the gelatine in cold water until really soft – around 5 minutes. Heat the crème fraîche and sugar really gently in
a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Keep stirring! Now add the softened gelatine and the vanilla and stir until the gelatine has dissolved. Leave it to cool.
3 Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in
a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whizz up the ricotta in a food processor until smooth, then add the melted chocolate and the cream mixture. Pour over the crumb base and place in the fridge to set, preferably overnight.
4 Carefully remove it from the tin – a hot cloth around the edge of the cake tin will help it to loosen easily – then place on
a cake stand and decorate. It will keep perfectly well decorated in the fridge
for 24 hours.
Per serving: 342 calories, 22.5g fat
(14g saturated), 29g carbohydrate
Special thanks to Jane for her time and allowing me to share one of her amazing recipes with you all.
How beautiful is Shelina Permalloo? I mean she can cook that’s for sure but up close and personal she is GORGEOUS!! Even in whites,slaving over a hot stove.
I was lucky enough to meet her when she was cooking up a storm (aka mouth watering canapés) at a press launch for Darren Jenner‘s bespoke kitchens at the Sub Zero & Wolf showrooms in London. Darren’s kitchens are beyond fab and he’s really down to earth. Shelina had just won Masterchef and I had to say “hello”… as you do.
I had been shooting all day and I really wasn’t dressed to be at a launch like that. The place was filled with gorgeous ladies in very high heels, designer dresses who were sipping champagne and chatting about their £40,000 fridges. I was in my jeans having spent most of the day at a shoot on my knees arranging fake snow and a faux reindeer head! Was I put off by this? Not a jot! Having met the main man – who was so charming and down to earth I stood the other side of the island unit where Shelina was cooking up said canapés. She offered me a prawn covered in a chilli dressing. Not kosher! I had to refuse. So she said hang fire and I’ll do some more pineapple ones. Oh. My. Word! They were amazing. Sweet and hot and juicy all at the same time. I could have eaten the whole plateful- but that would have been rude! I was also hogging her attention and she was trying to concentrate. Cooking like that with all eyes on you can’t be easy!
So, I was chatting to Shelina’s agent (without actually realising it) and I said in passing to Shelina, “So you must be working on a book. When’s it out?” to which she replied “In a few months”. So it would appear fate was on my side. A few months later I arranged an interview with her and guess what? She remembered me! I was so flattered. When I say she remembered me I mean she remembered that I was the hovering vegetarian! Anyway, we chatted for ages and I’m completely her number one fan. Her book is just beautiful and her knowledge about flavours and spices is fantastic. But on to the interview…..
The Shelina Permalloo interview
How did you get into cooking and baking?
When I was really young around 3 or 4 years old I used to sit and help my mum in the kitchen. She’d give me a big wicker platter full of rice and pulses and in those days you had to sift through it to remove the stones. That was my first introduction to cooking.
My Aunt and my mum were always cooking together and I learnt almost by default. It’s only recently during my time on MasterChef that my mum reminded me that when I was twelve I wanted to own a restaurant. She and Dad said a firm ‘NO’ as they wanted a more professional career for me and I’d completely forgoten about it.
Who inspires you most in the cooking arena and why?
David Thompson. He’s a renowned Thai chef. A legend in the Thai cooking arena. He doesn’t compromise on flavours and keeps his food as authentic as possible. He stays true to the original traditional recipes.
What influences the flavours of Mauritian food?
Mauritius wasn’t occupied until 400 years ago and it was the colonization of the many different cultures that created such a diversely ethnic food. That’s why at any dinner table you can find a French stew with an Indian curry and a chinese stir fry all at once. It’s a real fusion of tastes. East meets west.
How did you come to be on Master chef?
My love of food led me to apply for Masterchef back in April 2011. I sat and filled out the on -line application with a friend. I clicked ‘send’ and then forgot about it. At the time I was a Project manager and wanted to change to a job within the food industry. I soon gave up my job and started looking for a position in catering. Then in August I got a call from MasterChef asking me to come in for a chat.
What do you do for fun?
Cook! In my teens I’d cook for friends and at Uni I was the ‘house cook’. Now I cook to entertain. I love parties and going to friends houses. I also love Zumba and just chilling out with a good book. I can get totally lost in a good cook book. At the moment I am loving Rick Stein’s India but I also love literary books too.
Where is your favorite place to go out for a meal?
It depend on my mood but I really love ‘Silk Road’ in Camberwell. It’s low key, got a great style and has very hot, crazy szechuan spices. It’s delicious.
What kitchen gadget could you not live without and why?
Microplane grater – otherwise I’d have to stand and hand chop all my ginger and garlic instead of grating it!
What’s your favorite meal?
Anything made with seafood. Octopus, prawns, lobster. One of the dishes in the book ‘Seared Lobster with lime and coriander butter’ is the one dish that springs to mind. It’s my favorite dish.
How long did the book take to write?
From start to finish it took a year. After I won MasterChef I had a few months where I had to keep it a secret so I got about 50-60 recipes done in that time. Then once the last show aired I was able to find a publisher. I was really happy to write a book for Ebury. That’s when I completed the rest of the recipes.
How do you test the recipes in Sunshine on a Plate? What’s the process?
All the recipes are tested at home first and then I got friends and family to test them. I wanted each dish to be as easy as possible to make whilst remaining authentic and not complex. Accessibility of ingredients was also a big thing for me. I didn’t want there to be any ingredients that were going to be really difficult to find. Even Sainsburys and Waitrose sell Chickpea flour, it’s just in the gluten free section rather than the baking.
What is your favorite recipe in the book?
For savory it would have to be the lobster dish. It’s a stand out party favorite. I love to cook it for friends. For dessert it would have to be the banana lattice. It’s a great way to use up bananas that are on the turn and it has that sticky toffee kind of taste whilst remaining light.
Were there any major disasters when working on the book?
There weren’t any disasters really. We shot the book in Mauritius with lots of scene setting shots of market places and local fish and lobster sellers. On the last day we planned to shoot the book jacket. The plan was to get a shot of me cooking on the shore with the sea in the background. It had been a beautiful day all day. Just as my hair and make up was finished it started to rain but not just any rain. Torrential rain. It was a total wipe out and we had to go with plan B. I still love the cover shot.
What’s next on your wish list
I’m planning on opening my own restaurant, which has always been my biggest wish. But while I am planning that I am doing lots of shows including the Good Food show as well as planning book two!
Sunshine on a Plate by Shelina Permalloo (Ebury Press, £20 hardback) Images © Martin Poole available on AMAZON
Check out Shelina’s recipe for Mango, Rum and Lime Syllabub in the next post. I only have permission to feature it for one month so don’t miss it!
I’ve been mega busy the last few weeks shooting Halloween (I know. I know! It was Christmas last time and now it’s Halloween. I’m all over the place! No wonder my head’s spinning) and as the kids are off for the Summer I have literally been here there and everywhere. Can you believe the little ones are half way through their 6 weeks hols already? Slow down time. Plllleeeassse!!!
Anyway, I nearly forgot to tell you all about my exciting mention in Delicious Magazine. Back in May the lovely Rebecca Smith, Deputy Editor over there asked me if I had a recipe that had been handed down to me for Rosh Hashannah (the Jewish New Year) which would fit in with their September issue. Each issue has a feature where there is a really lovely personal story of a favorite recipe being handed down from generation to generation or from special friends. It’s really sweet. Well, my first thought was to give her my Honey Cake recipe but as they had featured that cake last year I sent her my Challah recipe instead which I got from my brother Robert. It’s not one of those long time family traditions – rather just a nice to share story. It really takes me back to when he was in London (not Australia) and his first daughter was born. He tried so many recipes to get it right and would send everyone photos of what he had made each Friday night. You’ll have to pick up the current copy to read it in full and get the recipe- or I may just share it with you in a few weeks in time for Rosh Hashannah, but really I just wanted to share my excitement at having CakesBakesAndCookies.com mentioned in such a prestigious foodie mag. And just look how amazing Bex’s shot of it is in the mag!!! It makes my mouth water. Beautiful.
I do love a handed down recipe. Don’t you? What recipe have you been handed down that you go back to time and time again? I’d love to know.