I am surrounded by a team of people who make me look good. One of these remarkable people in my life is Olivia Schaffer. She has directed and mentored me in all my written work, making sense of my non-journalistic words and phrases.
We met nine years ago at Hartford House where Olivia was responsible for marketing the hotel. Not only work colleagues, we developed a truly special friendship. Over the years she has offered me guidance, support and constant encouragement in all my activities - work and private. She is a free spirit with an unconditional joy for life, as well as a deep love of art and culture. She listens and questions things with an open mind, always giving sound advice with a non-judgemental viewpoint when she thinks I'm being a bit of a prude. She often says out loud what I am thinking but not able to put into words. There aren't many people who understand me on the level that she does and for this I am eternally thankful. Living life to the fullest is her motto, my kind of lady... Our most recent project together was Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home. Let's hope there are many more from where that came. The level of respect I have for Olivia allows me to accept her words of constructive criticism without getting offended - this in itself is unique.
In appreciation of all she has done for me I compiled a few recipes with Olivia in mind. I asked to her to give me some ideas for what she would like and here are her suggestions. Some items were out of season so I have worked with an ingredient as close as possible to the original, which can be used when in season and available.
Apple, cinnamon and pecan cake with cream-cheese icing was first on her list. Any day of the week you can give me any type of moist, fruity cake with loads of flavour and that's me done. Then top it with cream-cheese frosting and I will probably eat the entire cake with no help from anyone!
In my opinion banana bread is a little dated (pardon the pun!). So, as a necessity rather than for the love, I created this banana and date loaf for those times when I have excess bananas. It has a depth of flavour and interesting healthy sweetness that will impress even your granny!
I'm often disappointed with the flavour of - and recipes for - muffins. When ordering or baking a pear and all-spice muffin this is the flavour I want. I don't enjoy searching for the taste of the ingredients. If cost is an issue, make six instead of than 12 - and make them properly.
Apricot and ginger tart was also on Olivia's list. I'm an apricot junkie - actually I like all stone fruit. With apricots being out of season I use dried Turkish apricots. Oh boy, these treats are making me long for a tea party!
Her peach-and-almond pie makes me think of pecan pie - what great childhood memories this conjures up - the more gooiness the better. Here is a whole-almond pie with dried peaches. Remember to whip out this recipe when fresh peaches are in season.
Pineapple and coconut cupcakes... I remember at high school cooking a pineapple and cherry upside down cake. Wowie, it was yummy! Also, in my first few years at Hartford House we made a coconut cake served with a pineapple sorbet of sorts - a take on a pina colada. This combination is a classic and an innovative wedding cupcake idea.
So here's to treasured friendships, no matter ones age. Sharing food, recipes and happy times is the glue that binds us.
You'll find more recipes in my recently-launched book Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home. At R250 from any well-known bookstore, or online, it's a worthwhile buy. I look forward to receiving your comments.
Please take these recipes and try them.
Send comments and food-related questions to email@example.com. I always look forward to hearing from you. For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK, find me on Twitter - jackie_cameron and visit my website, www.jackiecameron.co.za. Assisted by Elaine Boshoff for recipe development and food styling.