Kelda Hains’ first job as a cook was at Lois’ bustling suburban restaurant the Brooklyn Cafe & Grill. Kelda recalls being a hospitality and tourism student and approaching Lois to interview her for an essay on small owner-operator run restaurants. Lois was the only restaurateur to ask for a copy of the finished essay; not for editorial control but out of a genuine interest. When Kelda returned to the restaurant to drop off a copy, Lois asked if she would like a job. Kelda said yes.
During the time that they worked together at the Brooklyn Cafe & Grill, Lois had a formative impact on Kelda’s approach to food. Kelda admired Lois’ style of food based on simplicity and thoughtfulness which she describes as ‘home cooking with finesse’ and her approach to running a restaurant based on generosity.
Kelda and Lois’ relationship wasn’t a typical mentor and student relationship however, as the information exchange went both ways. The shared inspiration Lois and Kelda found in each other is self evident as you look through Lois’ Listener columns, where Kelda’s name sometimes pops up as the source of recipes.
As co-owner of the wonderful Nikau Cafe, Kelda has developed a strong reputation for her own simple and thoughtful approach to cooking seasonal and local food. Not to mention for her baking, some of which is made using Lois’ recipes. Anyone who has had the delight of eating a baked something from Nikau Cafe will know to expect great things from Kelda’s recipe for lemon yoghurt cake and it most certainly does not disappoint.
Kelda’s lemon yoghurt cake (Listener, May 3 1997, p. 53).
4 free-range eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
grated zest of two lemons
1/2 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
75g butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup icing sugar
Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a loose-bottomed 23cm cake tin and grease the sides with some butter. Use an electric beater to whisk the eggs and sugar until really pale and expanded in volume (will take a couple of minutes). Fold in the lemon juice, zest and yoghurt. Add the flour and baking powder and fold through. Stir 1/2 cup of the cake batter into the melted butter and then fold this mix back into the batter. Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for around 30 minutes until firm.
To make the glaze, heat the juice and icing together until it forms a syrup. Pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin.