Monday, November 30, 2009

The Great 2009 Comfort Food Poll

I began the Comfort Food Poll after I had been talking about the YamDaisy Cafe idea for a while, and had some feedback that cheap nutritious food would not be attractive to potential customers. It sounded too much like aching jaws and boring vegetables.
Even when I talked about delicious, nutritious, local, seasonal food made from scratch on the premises....
No, said some, people want junk food.
So I came up with the idea of finding out for myself - by asking people what they want to eat when they are hungry and tired.

The Question
"You have had a hard day, you are sick, tired and hungry. The Fabulous Food Fairy says "Sit yourself down and I will make you a lovely comforting meal. What would you like?"

I asked this question in my website, on the Facebook 'Comfort Food' Page, in my Community News Sheets and I asked most people I met.
I did mean to do more publicity, my local newspaper would have published an article for me, but my health has been bad the last few months and so I wasn't able to extend the idea.

However, the 70 or so results were very interesting! I quickly saw that the range was SO wide that one dish could probably not be counted a winner. If I did count it that way, Roast Lamb would be the winner, closely followed by Chicken Soup, Vegetable Soup, Pumpkin Soup, and Macaroni Cheese.
But there were variants within, one chicken soup had noodles, another had vegetables, another had dumplings and so it went.
I have ended up putting them into broad categories which seemed to indicate the favourite types of food better.

1st PLACE:
Delicious Nourishing Soups
2nd PLACE:
Scrumptious bakes including Spanakopita and Macaroni Cheese
3rd PLACE:
Tasty Stews; Curries were a big player here
4th PLACE:
Heart Warming Pasta dishes

I had to work out what to do with pasta bakes, there were a couple of lasagnes as well as another pasta bake, so I counted them in both categories!
There was also a love for potato mash, it appeared as part of a meal over and over again.
Pies were popular, especially from British contributors, and toast soldiers with soft boiled eggs appeared too.

Most of these comfort foods came from Australia, indeed, most came from my local community around Melbourne, and they do show that the sort of comfort meals that people would ask for, are exactly the sort of food that would be served at a YamDaisy Cafe.

Ofcourse we did have someone nominate chocolate! And another would simply want pavlova... but it is truly overwhelming that most people chose delicious nutritious meals.
You can see the contributions on the Comfort Food Facebook Page
And at the Comfort Food page on the YamDaisy Website

What comforting food would you ask the Fabulous Food Fairy to make for you?

PS The Fabulous Food Fairy was drawn by Harper Jones aged 5. Thankyou Harper!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who would be a Chef at a YamDaisy Cafe?

I am going to do a little series of posts about Chefs at the YamDaisy Cafe.
It is one of the ongoing tensions when I discuss the practicality of getting this structure to work
In this post the question is "Who would want to be a Chef at a YamDaisy Cafe"

"What a Great Start to a Career!"
This was my theory. I imagined a young chef just out of College and excited about putting his/her skills into practice. How better to do this than at the YamDaisy Cafe? A good position with the safety of the franchise structure to support! Maybe we could have a system of mentors? What a great start to a career!
"Joy, you have no idea!" said my chef friend Teri. She patiently explained about young chefs wanting to be where the bright lights are, The kitchens with kudos! The great chefs of the world, The fantastic locations.
So I was a bit nervous about it when I was speaking to someone who helped support Social Trading Initiatives. But he said:

"There is no end of burnt out chefs needing work"
Oops. (he didn't know I was going to quote him here!). And my reaction was: O dear! I think there are a few skills needed here that a burnt out chef might struggle with! The chef is not only cooking, she/he is the community interface. They have to be good with old people, young people, screaming babies, cope with people complaining about the meals, do a bit of teaching, make the place happy and successful. All the things that probably burns out cooks in the first place.

The next person I spoke to was a highly qualified and successful chef who was running a lovely little organic cafe. He had his own theory about what might be attractive at a YamDaisy Cafe:
"Good Hours!"
He had a young family and needed to be able to spend time with them. He knew there are other chefs who have done the long hours, the no-life-but-work, and needed to stop, and find a living that brought an income and time for his family.

And this shed light on the 'Burnt Out' chefs who probably had had enough of the long-hours-no-life too - and quite possibly had recovered and now might be ready to try the YamDaisy challenge!

I have honed the structure to make it workable for a chef who would like to work 10am - 6pm, or as close as possible. And if there are two chefs working together, or a chef and another worker, then surely it can all be covered in a fairly civilised way.

I would love to know what sort of person you think might be a chef at a YamDaisy Cafe!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spring Menu

I have had a hard month health wise, and when I have tried to get the next YamDaisy Menu together I have been stymied by the vagaries of Spring! We are so lucky with the good produce available in Springtime in Melbourne, but it seemed that all the menus I have called for ingredients that were not at their best, or that were wickedly expensive!
A reminder that these are menu's suitable for the YamDaisy Cafe see website
The menu offers each days clients the choice of a soup, two main meals and a dessert. The food is local, seasonal and delicious.
In the end I have put the menus I have aside for the moment and come up with my own - after a good look around my favourite fruit and veg market. So here it is:

SOUP: Lentil and Spinach Soup with Tomato Parmesan Bread (pictured)
MAIN 1: Chicken Drumsticks with Mashed Potato and Braised Lemony Asparagus
MAIN 2: Black-eyed Bean Curry, Cauliflower and Fennel in Aromatic Oil (pictured) with Basmati Rice
FRUIT DESSERT: Cherry Fruit Salad with a Ricotta Star

SOUP: The Spinach and Lentil Soup is a French classic, very tasty and light. The Tomato Parmesan Bread is made with a richer dough, rolled out and sprinkled with a mixture of finely chopped sun dried tomatoes, chives and parmesan cheese. It is then rolled up and baked and it tastes SO good!

MAIN 1: I love these chicken drumsticks, they are marinated in a mix of yoghurt with some spices and a bit of maple surup and then roasted to tasty gorgeousness. They taste good cold as well.
The mashed potato is going to be one of the YamDaisy touchstones given what a favourite food it is! Soft and fluffy and perfectly seasoned it makes a bed on the plate and catches all those tasty drips from its accompaniments!
It is asparagus season here (so long as the nasty heat hasn't wiped it out!) and braising the asparagus with a bit of olive oil, butter, lemon zest and juice, gives it its own sauce and completes the dish.

MAIN 2: Bean Curry is a comfort food staple, and the Cauliflower and Fennel in Aromatic Oil is so easy and wonderful. Since we are in the middle of the heat wave mentioned above, it was a good one for me to make as it goes well in the Microwave - but it could cook in the oven or on top of a gentle heat! It is delicious and keeps well. Here is how I did it:

Cauliflower and Fennel in Aromatic Oil from Julie Sahni
Make a mix of
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
Heat 4 tbsp mustard or vegetable oil
Fry the spices and
1 cup of chopped spring onions (scallions) for a minute
1 small cauliflower in florets
1 1/2 cups sliced fennel bulb
Mix til everything is coated with the oil
Cook until vegetables are done (6 minutes in my microwave)
Serve garnished with coriander, fennel greens and/or mint.

FRUIT DESSERT: It is the end of Spring and just about cherry season Woohoo! So the fruit salad can have a nice proprtion of cherries, along with the other fruits that are showing their faces here. The ricotta stars are made by mixing the ricotta with an egg and a little bit of sweetening, and then baked in a tray until set, Star cookie cutters cut out the shapes to go with each dessert. A spoon of syrup flavoured with vanilla can go over the top.

What would you choose from this menu? Would you eat there, or have take away?