Friday, June 18, 2010



Remember slumber parties? Sleeping bags spread out on the floor of your parents’ den, flashlights creating halos of golden warmth around youthful, innocent faces, silly whispered gossip about cute boys and evil catty gossip about rival girls while nibbling on forbidden snacks smuggled in from the kitchen while the folks watched TV only a few feet away? There was something so gloriously decadent and slightly subversive about a good slumber party, especially once one has reached the so-called age of reason and understanding when innocence is tinged by the naughty and one feels the burden of hovering parents lifted. Childhood slumber parties replaced by teen sleepovers, when the gossip becomes just a little less innocent, the snacks slightly more sinful and the laughter maybe just a tad less virtuous. Those carefree times of our youth spent in pajamas curled up in front of some old B movie or black & white horror flick, giggling, eating popcorn and forgetting all about responsibility and homework until Monday morning rolls around.

Ah, those slumber parties of our youth lost in the past, long ago nights spent with our best girlfriends long exchanged for nights spent with husbands and children. Hours on the phone or lunch out at some sidewalk café just doesn’t take the place of a good slumber party. But are we now too old for the goofiness, the childishness of a sleepover? And what do we do with the husbands?

Food Blogger Connect was the perfect excuse for a small group of otherwise perfectly respectable, well-behaved, responsible women to conjure up their inner 16 year olds and meet up for a wicked weekend! Sophisticated to a tee, leaving grumbling husbands behind (much too easily, one could argue), they swept into London on a carpet of good intentions and met up at their own proverbial Bat Cave, Cook Sister HQ, where shoes were kicked off, hair let down and the good times started to roll! It all began rather innocently with a braai – a South African barbecue – which found charming Nick, rather flustered surrounded by all that giggling womanhood, manning the tongs and firing up the grill. Glasses of rosé in hand, we nibbled on cheese that each of us had brought from our respective countries: France, Germany, Switzerland while waiting for the spicy sausages and the lamb chops to hit our plates. Mmmmm, hungry. Cameras already poised over plates, the food blogger in each of these lovely women pushed their way to the front of the bus. Everything, absolutely everything that would be eaten over the course of this long weekend would be photographed for posterity’s sake.

The Spice Girls do Charlie's Angels

Snarky, Sporty, Saucy and Zesty joined Sweary * in the conservatory for a hearty meal followed, of course, by a plateful of Koeksister! Dense and sweet, these are special South African treats like crullers. The ladies also spilled a load of candy and chocolate out onto the table, treats brought along from their homeland. Gifts were exchanged as was laughter, gossip and good food. And one very Spicy Weekend was kicked off!

Cooksister of course!

Carambar! Caramba!

Some highlights of a very Spicy Girly weekend:

- Saucy very excitedly shows up at London City Airport to a text message announcing “Zesty has landed and in need of a very STIFF drink!” and running straight into Zesty’s arms, dancing and screeching like teens, she listens in horror to Zesty’s death-defying experience on the autobahn.

- 4 women (Snarky slept chez elle) sprawled out on an air mattress and sofas or snuggled up in a sofabed or dashing in and out of the kitchen, coffee mug or wine glass in hand depending on the time of day, buzzing between laptop computers perched atop rowing machine and kitchen counter in order to keep the twitterverse alive with our updates and news. Clothes and shoes and chocolate strewn around, stacked on furniture, stepped over on the floor like those good old college dorm days. Spice Sorority anyone? The elegant dance of sharing one bathroom was choreographed to perfection and it was proclaimed that the FBC Spice Girls could easily live together in wonderful, joyous harmony all year round. Has anyone ordered that Tour Bus yet?

Just practicing our FBC presentation speeches!

- Wine, women and song… and chocolate, macarons and a risqué dvd of hot rugbymen in various states of undress, women draped over furniture, swanning between ogling the cute ones and screaming “fast forward!!! Not hot!” while carefully dividing macarons into 4 and tasting, analyzing, judging, commenting. And voting Zesty’s Studmuffin Raspberry Tea Macarons with Dark Chocolate Tachini Ganache filling the best of the evening hands down!

Now what is a slumber party without a few goodies?

One husband slouched on the edge of said sofa nervously flipping a rugby ball in his hands, up down, up down, back and forth, with a grimace on his face as if he was being forced to watch open heart surgery, finally, disgusted, mumbling under his breath, stomping off to bed.

- Why am I the only one that needs coffee and carbs to start my day? One downs an invigorating tall glass of water and grabs a piece of fruit (but they don’t call her Sporty for nothing!) while the other two seem to be able to take it or leave it. Argh! Am total catatonic monster without breaky!

- There’s no plaice like home. Wrong plaice, wrong crowd. Lovely evening planned at the Tate Modern restaurant although some (moi) are a bit astonished at stark, bare, low class diner design look for something meant to be so upscale. Food ordered, spirits high, Spice Girls + one lovely friend + one darling Mowie gathered together for a delicious meal. Three of our sisters are served their lemon sole which looks and tastes mysteriously like inexpensive plaice. Do not try and fool a table of food bloggers, mister! Haggling with the waiter, demanding an explanation, manager finally is pulled out of bed (or wherever he has been hiding) who then explains to a table of I’m guessing bimbos is what he thought? that 1) it is sole, 2) that sole and plaice look very much alike so easily mistaken 3) that he’s had trouble with his suppliers and that 4) he’ll not charge the table for 3 desserts. Sweary, arms crossed, lips pinched tightly together, is slowly fuming, the steam coming out of her ears visible. Snarky who’s head was expected to explode at any moment, is furiously texting husband who is sending back confirmation of the price difference between plaice and sole while Sporty, being the sport that she is, has put on her well-educated, knowledgeable school marm voice and taken the entire situation in hand: “There seems to be some mistake here….no, this is definitely not sole so why are our friends being charged for sole….I’d like to speak to the manager…no, this is not good enough….” She kept her head, sounded very professional and eventually got the job done! And enjoyed every minute of it, a sport to her. We had to calm Sweary and Snarky down and finally did and ended up deciding that we will not eat at the Tate Modern ever again. But I would like to mention that my Cappuccino Panna Cotta was out of this world delicious!

- Shopping: Ladurée, snapping pictures until requested to stop, it is not allowed s'il vous plait! Fortnum & Mason with Mr. Snarky, hands full of brilliant Papoose, scooting joyously around store eating all of the free samples. Sporty snappy pictures of sole (£12 per portion) and plaice (£1.10 per 100 g) to send with her letter of complaint to said Tate Modern, buying and buying, and finding, to my heart’s delight, food coloring paste for macarons! Out on the street, Zesty dashing out into traffic to snap that perfect photo of a double-decker bus!

- Traditional fish & chips in a traditional English pub followed by a run through Greenwich market and the noisy, brilliant, look-at-us-aren’t-we-fun Spice Girls talking their lovely way to a free plate of cinnamon churros and chocolate dipping sauce.

- An evening cooking together. Zesty’s fabulous Chicken Curry and Chick Peas & Spinach. Yum! Every girl in her jammies, A-Ha and Duran Duran playing loudly, dancing, singing, twittering, drinking wine and cooking and knowing that we have found true friends and sisters for life. Out of 5 simple food blogs friendships are created, like minds, like souls are brought together.

The Spice Girls are cookin' hot!

Too old? No, I don’t think so. There is indeed a teen still left inside each of us and all it takes is an amazing weekend together to realize this. Yes, we’ve added cooking to the gossip and the naughty dvd’s, the wine drinking is now legal and mostly under control, but the rest was there. All except for the prank phone calls. Maybe next time…

Girl Scout Camp was never like this!


- Monday: standing for what seemed like hours ;-) listening to Sporty animatedly discuss dates with the date man, Saucy finally, carefully, thoughtfully selects a lovely jar of date mustard to bring back to her man (Grumpy Spice) as a surprise gift. Said jar of date mustard is duly haggled over and finally confiscated by customs agents at London City Airport claiming that it is actually a liquid and cannot be brought aboard the plane. Terrorism by mustard? Mean, evil customs lady stalks away and Saucy, at wit’s end, has nice young agent practically in tears. She finally thanks him for his kind help and tells him to take the date mustard home and enjoy it. She buys two ties for Grumpy instead.

- Later in the week as Grumpy Spice was grumbling about his difficult week, Saucy in all of her sauciness exclaims “Yes, it must have been sad for you to start your week without me!” which leads to Grumpy snorting “yeah, and we didn’t exactly waste a lot of time rushing to answer the phone every time you called!” Ouch! Did he really want me to call him over the weekend?

* Names have been changed to protect the innocent….and the not so innocent!

In honor of a delicious, spicy, chocolate-y weekend with the Spice Girls, I’ve made Cinnamon Chocolate Feather Puddings, otherwise known as Chocolate Pots of Loveliness. This recipe was adapted from the recipe in my wonderful old 1964 edition of Joy of Cooking. The puddings are steamed in a bain-marie in the oven and, eaten warm, they are indeed feather light and gooey with an incredibly rich chocolate flavor though without the bitterness of bittersweet chocolate. It is almost like eating a chocolate bar in meltingly mousse form. Chilled, the puddings sink slightly and become dense and very creamy and it is like eating the most decadent of fudge brownie puddings. And with only 1 tablespoon butter, 1 egg and 1 ½ ounces (42 g) chocolate! For 8 puddings! Not bad and definitely Girl friendly!

I would like to send this to Meeta of What’s For Lunch Honey? Monthly Mingle. This month it is hosted by Erin of The Apartment Kitchen who chose the theme Special Sweet Treats. And these puddings are indeed special!

(and another huge thank you to Kerrin & Meeta for sharing their pictures!)

Or Fabulous Potted Little Pots of Chocolate
Serves 8

1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 large egg
1 cup (250 ml) milk *
1 Tbs (15 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ oz (42 g) semisweet chocolate, melted
1 ½ cups (190 g) flour
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ Tbs (7 g) baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla

* milk can be replaced by coffee for mocha puddings, but omit the cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter 8 deep individual ramekins.

Beat the egg until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Add the milk and the melted butter and chocolate to the egg and sugar and beat just to combine.

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon together and then stir into the egg/milk mixture until well blended. Stir in the vanilla.

Ladle into the prepared ramekins not more than 2/3 full and cover each dish with a piece of aluminum foil. Place in a large baking pan (I place a folded page of a newspaper in the bottom of the pan which keeps the water from boiling) and carefully fill the pan around the ramekins with hot water to come up about halfway. Bake/steam in the oven for ½ hour.

Carefully remove the ramekins from the pan, uncover and serve immediately for the warm, creamy version. Serve with salted caramel sauce or salted caramel, vanilla, cinnamon or coffee ice cream.

Warm and gooey

These can also be refrigerated and eaten chilled, but they will have sunken slightly and turned into dense, fudgy brownie puddings. Serve these with any of the above or whipped cream and fresh fruit. Or eat as is standing in the door of the refrigerator trying not to look guilty. Or being caught.

Chilled and denser

Decadent, sweet and chocolate-y like the perfect slumber party!


Karin said...

Wow Jamie, I love the new layout - very sexy!!!
Hugs from Germany
Karin (of unbirthed yum and more)

MeetaK said...

awesome awesome awesome! yes it was just that a re-living of a teen slumber party but this one better because we're older - pass the wine and the rugby men please! love it!

also the choc pudding is the perfect special treat for this party - hugs!!

sunita said...

Just read Meeta's post and now yours; I feel as if I was there too, watching everyone have the so much fun. Love you girls; you're the best!

allison [a for aubergine] said...

Awww! It looks like you had a lovely time! Those puddings look so good, I can almost smell their sweetness.

Debugcooking said...

Loved this post Jamie..and awesome looking pud!

Anushruti said...

This looks fabulous and something that I had been looking for. I'm going to try this for sure! Without the egg ofcourse! Bookmarked!

Ken said...

Wonderful post. It's amazing you can do so much in one weekend. I can feel the joy and love of it all, including the pudding.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those puddings have a wonderful texture! Wow, what a great girly weekend! You must be lots of fun to be around.



Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I meant, it must be fun to be around you girls...



Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

They're in pots. The pots are little. They look lovely. Know what I mean?? :o)

Seriously though, LOVE the post. It brought the memories to life all over again. Let us all say together again - POOR NICK! In his wildest fantasies of 4 women in a bed, it was never like this, hahahah! I think he pictured less giggling and fewer, umm, naked rugby boys with fluffers - sorry, butt sculptors! (let's see what Google traffic THAT little gem gets you!)

You are truly my Spice Sister - love you & can't wait for the next group slumber party!

Kerrin @ said...

where ever do i begin ?! what a post !!! spice sorority all the way. you totally nailed it - so many perfect analogies, descriptions, emotions and all. the living room at cooksister hq was a total dorm room, how fun ! and talk about details, you didn't miss a thing. even if i have about 3 tall glasses of water to start my day, not just 1, ha ha ! and me too, totally loved my dessert at the tate - sticky toffee pudding all the way, mmm. almost as much as i love restaurant confrontations ;) ... and dates.

oh but how i love slumber parties the most !! yes, we need to get the tour bus and plan the next ! :) fabulous post saucy !!

Cathy said...

I love this post, Jamie. I chuckled all the way through it as I remembered back to the days of slumber parties and weekends spent with girlfriends. I could picture your dinner scene and the tussle over what fish you were served. They picked the wrong group to try to fool.

That chocolate pudding looks wonderful, something I have to try.

Nina Timm said...

Never mind supper, let me just move straight to dessert!!! Lovely write up about the FBC2010 and the slumber party!!

RV said...

I am gorging at the pudding and reading your tales. Awesome, Glad to see that you all had wonderful time together.

elra said...

Oh jaime, how fun this must have been. And of course, there is always a perfect delightful pudding to make it even more joyful.

Deeba PAB said...

Oh you got me girl...SIGH...with a lump in my throat. What a rocking good post! Still waiting for THAT mail sistah, and thinking of all I missed! Loved the way you brought it all together, with words a perfect fit! The pudding? Aaaah that's perfect too. 1 egg, 15g butter, feed 8? Right up my street Jamie! You are the best!

Barbara Bakes said...

How I would have loved to have been a part of your slumber party. It sounds like so much fun. How nice to bake something yummy up to remind you.

doggybloggy said...

anything with a name like "feather pudding" has got to be out of this world delicious - great job spice girls!

Anh said...

!!! Your hair is just PERFECT. I've been drooling eversince I saw the pics on Meeta's blog. You are the bomb, sis!

Peter M said...

Thanks for posting some personal photos of you gals together.

I want a pudding, no...I want two puddings an I won't tell anyone!

Junglefrog said...

Oooo Jamie !! What a fun time you girls have had!! And while Italy is fantastic, I would have sooo loved to be there too!!

faithy, the baker said...

This dessert is calling my name...!
You gals looked like you enjoyed yourselves tremendously!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

I'm loving the thought of you guys having a Bat Cave and a tour bus. It was a brilliant weekend even if the Tate is a bit fishy.

I want some of that colouring powder too!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Aww I really wish I had gone! You guys and gals look like you had so much fun and I would have loved to have met you in person! Next year perhaps! :D

Sippity Sup said...

Oh you crazy girls! GREG

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, what a lovely post about a delightful spicy weekend! I like your spice girls much better than the real ones. I trembled, though, at the manager who dared to take on the foodie Spice Girls.

And, the Cinnamon Chocolate Feather Pudding looks absolutely scrumptious!

Sophie said...

Hello Jamie!!

It looks that you all had tons of fun!!

Yeah!! Those puddings look sensational too!

I also love London!! That's a grand city!!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

How fun Jamie. A grow-up girlie slumber party. Someone said in a comment, please pass the wine. Great idea.

Yummy chocolate dessert. I'll take two if no one's looking.

tasteofbeirut said...

What to say? Sounds like you had fun and met soul-sisters too! Great pudding.

RamblingTart said...

What a jolly time you girls had, Jamie. :-) I'm grinning so big imagining your chattering and antics. :-) So glad you got to have that wonderful escape together. :-)

The Duo Dishes said...

Obviously you guys had a blast. :) No matter what, there's always the need for fun in our lives, and you know how to take it there.

theUngourmet said...

Oh how I miss slumber parties! Love the Charlie's Angels shot! The pudding looks amazing too! Glad you had a nice time with the girls! ;)


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