Sugar, Sesame, Spice and all things nice!

Last weekend we served up our last afternoon tea of the year, a warming event full of Middle Eastern flavours to bring some spice to a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon. Anne Shooter’s wonderful book Sesame and Spice was our tome for the afternoon, serving up an array of sweet and savoury delights for our guests



To kick off proceedings, guests were welcomed with a welcome drink, our pomegranate fizz. Pomegranate juice and cava, with a dash of grenadine. Think of it as a take on a Kir Royale!

Up first were the savoury dishes – this included a beautiful aubergine tart, which had aubergine 3-ways at the core of it! Puff pastry was topped with baba ganoush, griddled aubergine slices and roasted aubergine wedges. This was baked before being topped with halloumi and a tasty drizzle of honey, pomegranate molasses, mint, chilli and peppery oil. Also on offer were fluffy little flatbreads topped with a salty and piquant black olive tapenade, air dried tomatoes and feta cheese.


These were accompanied with mini bagels filled with lox and a schmear (or smoked salmon and cream cheese!) and garnished with red onion and capers. A very traditional sandwich, but one everyone has got to love! Another pastry element came in the form of spinach and cheese filo parcels. Wilted spinach, feta and egg, spiced with nutmeg. A cheesy spiced delight indeed.

A short respite later, we moved onto sweet treats. As a nice lead up to the cakes, Dan made some wonderfully short, halva and sumac biscuits. This is essentially a shortbread recipe spiked with nutty halva, sour sumac and fragrant rose sugar – a new taste sensation. Dan tested these out on his colleagues who had no idea what sumac or halva was!

Swiftly after this was my fig and frangipane tart – buttery shortcrust and soft juicy figs surrounded by nutty frangipane and topped off with a honey and orange blossom drizzle and creme fraiche.

Now it was onto the cakes. Firstly spiced pumpkin cake, which was almost like a set custard! The base of this cake was pumpkin puree, lots of sugar and almonds. It came spiked with fruity raisins and festive spices. It was surprisingly light but took an age to bake!

An afternoon tea isn’t an afternoon tea without chocolate and our offering did not disappoint. The chocolate mousse cake consisted of two layers of mousse, firstly baked at the bottom and then a cool, chilled layer on top. Rich, bitter and satisfying this was an extremely light cake but very naughty!

Finally, Dan’s pretty mini saffron, almond and orange cakes were another interesting take on the traditional afternoon tea. These little, moist cakes were heavy with saffron fragrance, almond nuttiness and zesty orange. They came filled with homemade orange marmalade and an extremely naughty saffron buttercream – the leftovers of which Dan is still eating now!

All in all,  this was a very enjoyable afternoon. Food wise, Anne Shooter’s book is so full of flavourful, interesting bakes that will (and have) become firm favourites and I think our guests felt the same way. It was once again great to see an array of old faces and new, a couple of our guests last dined with us over three years ago! Speaking of time, in less than a fortnight we’ll be hosting our last event of the year, based on Ottolenghi and Scully’s stunning book Nopi. We’ve already started testing recipes and the menu will be shared in a couple of days, can’t wait!

November 2015 Menu – Middle Eastern afternoon tea

We’re swiftly approaching our penultimate event of year! Where does that time go!?

For our November event we’re treating our guests to a wonderful Middle Eastern inspired afternoon tea, where we’ll be using the beautiful book, Sesame and Spice as our guide. Bakes hailing from the Middle East, across Europe and New York all feature and we think our guests are in for something special!

Let us know what you think!

Nov 2015

2016 Dates – Book on now!

You’ve seen the themes for the first few months of 2016, so without further ado, here are the links for you to book onto the events!

January 16th 2016 – Eastern Europe, inspired by Mamushka
A sumptuous 8 course dinner inspired by Olia Hercules’ beautiful book. To book on click on the link below which will take you to Paypal. Spaces are £35 pp

February 6th 2016 – Latin American Lunch
Join us for a lazy Saturday lunch inspired by all things Latino! Click below to book now, £30 pp

March 12th 2016 – Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries III Lunch
Using Nigel Slater’s brand new beautiful tome, we’ll be dishing up some seriously tasty food at our lunchtime event. £30 pp, book using the link below.

April 30th 2016 – Rick’s Stein’s Byzantine
We’ll be going on a journey from Venice to Istanbul with eight delicious dishes inspired by Rick Stein’s vibrant new book it’s £35pp for this evening event.

2016 dates… On sale soon!

We’ve had a flurry of lovely people getting in touch asking about any new events coming up. As you know we’re currently sold out for our 2015 events, but we can now share with you our dates and themes for the first few months of 2016! They’ll go on sale on Friday 23rd Oct at 12 noon! Eek, talk about being well prepared! So without further ado, 2016 will bring us….

January 16th 2016 – Eastern Europe, inspired by Mamushka

We’ll be trying our hand at the flavours of eastern Europe using the beautiful Mamushka as our guide. Written by my new girl crush Olia Hercules (I want to be able to rock a head scarf like she does!!) we’ll we sharing dishes from Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and beyond! Tickets for this event will be £35pp

February 6th 2016 – Latin American Lunch

We’ll be revisiting the sunny climes of Latin America for a wonderful lunchtime event. The sour, smoky, fresh flavours of this cuisine is sure to get your tastebuds singing! I do wonder how many limes we’ll get through this time? We’ll be using a number of our favourite books, for this one, including Ceviche, Wahaca. Tickets will be £30pp.

March 12th – Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries III Lunch

We’ll be taking inspiration from our “Nige” for this lunchtime event, using the third of his Kitchen Diaries books. Using simple ingredients to make tasty, comforting, stunning dishes, we can’t wait for this event! For this lunch, tickets are £30pp

April 30th 2016 – Rick’s Stein’s Byzantine

We’ll be showcasing the delight’s of Rick Stein’s newest book Byzantine: From Venice to Istanbul in April and we can’t wait! We’ll be cooking up delights from Venice via Croatia, Greece and into Turkey. An eclectic mix, but all with that Byzantine spicing! Tickets for this will be £35pp

We hope these events are getting your juices flowing, so be quick and make sure you grab yourself a space at our table. Tickets on sale on the blog from Midday on Friday 23rd October!

Never Knowingly Underfed! A round up of our 4th Birthday!

We turned a fun and fabulous FOUR last weekend, that’s four whole years of supperclubbing for the people in (and around) Leeds, which is pretty good going for a little hobby on the side. With nearly 50 events under our aprons, we’ve served over 600 guests and plated up thousands of plates of food for them!

The theme for this celebration was Nanban, the oddly titled but beautifully presented book by Masterchef Tim Anderson, who won the TV show a few years back with his exciting take on Japanese fusion food. We saw Tim at the BBC Good Food show back in the Spring and were drawn in by his warm and down to Earth approach to food.

We can never celebrate a birthday without beer. Craft beer is everywhere now, which is nothing to complain about. We chose London based Beavertown Brewery, as they produce some our favourite beers of the moment. Beavertown is run by Robert Plant’s son Logan – a very handsome chap indeed! We love the punchy flavours of Beavertown, which you can sup from a colourful and punky can – very on trend! On offer that night was their staple session IPA Neck Oil – bursting with light grapefruit hoppiness and very refreshing! Also on offer was Gamma Ray – a juicy American pale ale that’s ever so slightly stronger than Neck Oil. The 8 Ball Rye IPA was an even stronger beer (6%) that came packed with rye (funnily enough) to give it a unique dry quality. Finally the Black Betty IPA was a smoky yet light and hoppy beer. We served them all up in a big brown paper bag so that guests could choose when to enjoy them.

Food-wise Nanban doesn’t have a great deal of main course recipes apart from Ramen. So we chose a plethora of small bites that combined to make a meal and which showcased the diversity of the book. Admittedly some weird ingredients were called for, but on the whole they were fairly accessible recipes. If you have this book then I do recommend that you test the recipes which are not always intuitive.

First up was a platter of beautifully crispy JFC (Japanese Fried Chicken or more commonly known as Chicken Karaage). Chicken is marinated overnight in chilli, mirin, soy, yuzu and a number of other ingredients, then dredged in potato starch and deep fried. The result? Juicy, tender chicken nothing like the sort peddled by well known chicken outlets!

This was swiftly followed by the slightly weirder rice yaki. A rice yaki is a pancake come fritter stuffed with cabbage, sushi rice, prawns, scallops, squid and cheese! This is fried in tons of katsu sauce and served with pickled ginger, mayonnaise and fish flakes. Not the most appealing sounding of dishes but comforting nonetheless. It’s basically a Japanese bubble and squeak, using store cupboard staples to bulk out the fish and veg.

Next up was my take on Tim’s mackerel Scotch egg. Tim’s actual recipe used fresh mackerel with tofu, which made a very sloppy mix indeed. I instead used potato and smoked mackerel which when combined with miso and ginger produced a very soft and tasty jacket for the soft boiled eggs. Guests were served these whole to share, which gave them the joy of cutting open the parcels to release the rivers of golden, runny egg yolk!

Susie loves a good steamed pork belly bun and the Nanban version of this was very familiar to the ones we’ve made before at previous supperclubs. This time, Susie used Tim’s recipe for Cola Cha Shu. Pork belly is braised for a few hours in Coke, cooled and pressed so that it can be sliced. This is reheated through with hoi sin, stuffed into a steamed, soft pillowy home made bun alongside cucumber, spring onion and sriracha hot sauce. It’s questionable whether these buns are actually Japanese, but they’re tasty nonetheless!

I’ve never made gyoza, the classic Japanese dumpling, and so this was the perfect opportunity to try them out! I made two flavours – a miso pork filling and a sesame veg filling. Both were full of delicious umami flavours and had a lovely combination of soft wrappers and crispy bottoms. I steamed mine in sake which gave a lovely caramelised flavour. A ponsu dipping sauce of soy, yuzu, mirin and rice vinegar was a lovely and sour accompaniment.

Guests were starting to groan at this point, which we ignored – our mantra at the Manor has always been ‘never knowingly underfed’! To refresh palates and revitalise stomachs we served a vegetable kake-ae. This is a Japanese take on ceviche and Tim’s version had mackerel. I thought we weren’t serving enough vegetables and so did a veggie version. Veg are essentially ‘pickled’ in rice vinegar for a few hours, leaving them crisp and piquant. I used mooli, cucumber, carrot and radish in my selection. Before serving they are drained and mixed with a heavenly sweet miso dressing which is spiked with earthy ground sesame seeds. The dressing is one to remember and which I could imagine poured over fish or white meats, yummy!

It was over to Susie for Tim’s take on a burger, which thankfully, we served in in minature! The Sasebo sliders we served up are a take on burgers made in, funnily enough Sasebo, which is known as the home of burgers in Japan. Seasoned, beef patties, topped with more Coke cha shu and all the usual burger trimmings, served with “Sasebo sauce”, a Japanese take on thousand island, incorporating chilli miso for an umami kick!

My final flourish was a little skewer of bacon wrapped scallops. These cute little morsels were inspired by the Japanese tradition of eating grilled items in little bars after work, often with a glass of beer or sake. I marinated my skewers in sake for a few hours, grilled them and then brushed with a little spicy miso butter.

Finally, we put guests out of their misery by serving our last savoury course, a very traditional Japanese dish of Tonkatsu. essentially a pork schnitzel – pork loin steak coated in panko and fried until crispy and golden. This was served with even more katsu sauce and lightly pickled cabbage and sesame to cut through that richness and for some added veg!

As a prelude to the dessert Susie whipped up a very pretty little sour cherry and green tea sorbet. Morello cherries blitzed in a green tea infused sugar syrup then churned. The sour fruit was but through and balance well with the earthy flavours of the tea.

Dessert options in Naban were not the most inspiring. I opted for the mojiko roll cake – which is basically a pimped swiss roll! The cake batter was spiked with ground black sesame seeds and black charcoal powder, which made it, erm black! This was filled with an uber sweet banana crème pat and strawberries and then rolled up tightly. I served this with a boule of caramel miso whippy san (Mr Whippy, or ice cream to you and me!). This is Tim’s take on salted caramel, which is out of this world with the strangely savoury and musky addition of Miso – super yum!

Finally a treat with coffee were Susie’s Matcha marubolos. A cake like cookie, sandwiched with matcha green tea frosting. Very similar to a whoopie pie, but with the cakes including soy sauce and sesame oil, really quite different! These little treats were a perfect end to the meal, not too sweet, with the sesame and green tea dampening some of the sweetness of the frosting.

Whilst we feared we had completely over faced our guests with the volume of food the feedback was undeniably positive, which was a relief! If I’m honest I’ll be glad to put away Nanban for a while and the only thing I’ll be rushing back to make (and recommend to you) are the katsu sauce, miso dressing and caramel miso ice cream. The recipes were not foolproof and the strange mix of ingredients were not initially that appealing, but we worked round it! I did also feel that the food we came to recognise Tim for in Masterchef was not overly apparent in this book, which is a shame. Anyway we still had a good time trying them all out!

Next up we have a Middle Eastern afternoon tea and a Nopi inspired festive lunch. There’s been some great new cook books out of late so we’ll be setting our first lot of 2016 dates very soon… We’ll give you good prior warning so you have time to check out if you can come. Tickets to our events would make great Christmas presents!

October Menu – 4th Birthday, Nanban & Beer

Now that our summer of travels are over, we’ re ready and raring to go and already prepping for our 4th birthday celebrations! Never did we think we would still be holding events, but if the people of Leeds want, we’ll still give!

To celebrate, we’ll be putting on a Japanese street food feast, serving up a number of small plates using Tim Anderson’s Nanban as our inspiration, paired with four cans of Beavertown Brewery’s finest.

Tasty grub and beer all served up in the wonderful surroundings of the Manor. What’s not to like? We’d love to know what you think!

October_2015 Menu

Poppyseed Pop-Up!

We ventured South this weekend to Sheffield to try out an exciting new supperclub run by Marie from Poppyseed dining. We met Marie and her husband Steve at the Swine that Dines at the start of the summer and were instantly charmed by their passion and interest in food, which meant their supperclub could be nothing more than excellent! Marie has a Bavarian background and upbringing and this is food that I don’t have a lot of experience of and so the thought of lots of warming Alpine treats was exciting, especially in the run up to Autumn!

Poppyseed itself is a small affair with just six guests around the table, but given that Marie does all the sourcing and cooking herself I don’t blame her at all for this. This month’s menu was based around the food they had experienced on their recent holiday in the Italian Gran Paradiso national park. This is right on the Alpine cusp between France and Italy and is not a place I am familiar with but which I’ll certainly look into now. This was Italian food but not as you know it!

On arrival at Marie and Steve’s school conversion home we were greeted with delicious glasses of berry spritz which was homemade berry liqueur topped up with prosecco. This was very light and refreshing. Our canapés included mini puff pastry tarts topped with succulent and salty pork rillettes, which were an absolute porky dream! Also on offer were mini puffs with Marie’s homemade ricotta! I’ve tried to make ricotta before but it doesn’t work with homogenised supermarket milk so Marie must have gone to some effort to source raw milk straight from the farm. Finally we were treated to warm grissini with a salty and herby yoghurt butter with basil.

Poppyseed canapes

Our fellow guests were very lovely to chat to and had been to Poppyseed before so they were able to explain what the rest of the meal was likely to be like. Our first starter was a lovely little salad of braised figs, hazelnut and lardo brought back from Italy. This was a light and lovely introduction to the flavours of Alpine Italy. The ingredients were simple yet well sourced.

Poppyseed salad

Next up was an intriguing suepa, a new dish to me! This was a cross between a baked bread pudding and a soup, if that makes sense?! Layers of homemade rye bread and fontina cheese were baked in lashings of beef broth. The broth was light and clear and could have been served as a consommé. This was warming and comforting yet over so rich!

Poppyseed starter

For our main course Marie had cured a lovely piece of beef from Whirlow Farm. This was then slow cooked with red wine and mushrooms and served up with soft polenta and caramelised onions. This dish was a bit more familiar to us. The clever curing of the meat meant it fell apart easily yet was firm at the same time. The sauce was thick and rich and almost sharp from the red wine, helping it to cut through everything. We enjoyed leftovers poured all over rye bread, mmmm! There’s no picture for this as we all dived in and devoured it before it was too late!

After a small break our dessert was a cogne cream which is essentially a rum and chocolate set custard. This was probably my least favourite course as I could have done with a chocolate that was a bit more bitter and a cream that was a bit more alcoholic, as after all the strong flavours of the night this got a bit lost. The star of the dish, however, was a scoop of refreshing pear sorbet on top. I think the pear is often forgotten about so it was good to see it here.

Poppyseed dessert

If you dine at Poppyseed do try their coffee. Marie sources unique single bean coffees from a guy in Sheffield who scours the likes of Madagascar and Tanzania for the best coffee plantations. It is some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted from a cafetiere. Petit four were homemade fruit pastilles that were flavoured with elderberry! These were deep and plummy. The final flourish was a little spoon of honey caramel which was a very light and tasty nougat.

Poppyseed caramels

Marie’s passion for sourcing good quality ingredients is very strong and influences her supperclub throughout every single course, from the main event to the little touches such as the canapés and the coffee. This makes it extremely exciting and enjoyable to dine at because you know her heart and soul has been put into absolutely everything. How she can make any money with using such top notch fare is not clear!

For us, Sheffield was not the easiest place to get to and from on a Saturday night without a car, but if you don’t mind driving or can convince someone else to then I do urge that you give Poppyseed a go. You won’t be disappointed by the beautiful ingredients and the warm and friendly hosts!