After what felt like a very long wait (and who knew October was such a long month?!) we held our River Cottage themed secret supperclub in honour of its 10 year anniversary. Plus it was an excellent excuse to go foraging for some free ingredients and cook up some weird and wonderful meals, which may have challenged some people! Thanks to our guests for trusting in us and for being adventurous. It meant we were able to dabble with some exciting recipes.
Our bunch were a lovely lot of local folk. What was really heartening as a supperclub host, was that many of them were brand new to supperclubs, had come on their own and were willing to mix and mingle with everybody. It’s great that everyone comes with a positive ‘up for it’ frame of mind. It really makes the night.
We started with canapes of home cured gravadmax (cured mackerel from Leeds market), pig’ liver pate on home made bread and the much anticipated crispy pigs ears! I admit that I had made pork scratchings just in case the ears were minging. But Susie triumphed with them and one comment was that they were like a cross between crackling and calamari! Here’s a link to the recipe, I’m sure you’ll all be rushing to make them!
Our guests continued their feast with shots of nettle soup. I had harvested the nettles at the end of the summer and then kept in the freezer until now. My hands are still numb from all the stings but I think it was worth it! The soup was a bit like watercress but with an earthier flavour.
The starter was my personal favourite – rabbit skewers with a spicy satay sauce. The rabbit was marinated in sweet, sour and salty flavours for hours and then barbecued (as we had no room in the oven to use the grill!). The strong flavours certainly got guests talking. I was pleased that the rabbit stayed moist and tender as I was worried it may require long, slow cooking, rather than a flash grilling.
I’m still finding bits of hay around the house from our main course of mutton leg baked in hay! I think this dish redeemed poor old mutton a bit. The hay, which it’s roasted in for about 2 hours, keeps it moist but adds an unusual spiciness, which got the guests guessing the source of. It’s a simple dish but delicious. For our alternative main, we served a whole harlequin pumpkin baked in cream and Gruyère cheese. We only had one order for this, but it looked beautiful!
We served the mains with a celeriac gratin and broccoli with an anchovy and chilli dressing. All the plates came back clean and there were hardly any leftovers for us either! We’ll get the mutton recipe up on the site asap.
Our final flourish was a very glamorous apple and blackberry crumble tart. It truly brought the humble crumble into dinner party status. The apples and blackberries were foraged from Richard’s Dad’s farm earlier this year. We had a nightmare getting the crumble top to brown (or colour at all for that matter!). So we just added more butter and sugar, which I’m sure no one minded. Susie, the master baker, produced some stunning, crisp pastry. It was served up with some lovely vanilla ice cream that I had churned up earlier in the week. Seasonal and sexy! Alas, not much leftover again!
To mark bonfire night we had our own bonfire and watched everyone else’s fireworks from the comfort of our garden. Guests were treated to sparklers and fire lanterns before heading back into the warm for coffee and Susie’s cupcakes. This month we had ginger cupcakes with an orange and cinnamon frosting.
Needless to say, everything on our menu was cooked from scratch. This is Susie and I’s passion and despite it taking up most of our spare time, it is worth it as we love it! It’s a pleasure preparing food for our new friends plus we get to try new ingredients and techniques. It never ceases to amaze me what hard work goes into putting on each event, so big thanks to Nick and Richard for their invaluable support and help.
We ended the night completely exhausted but content that we had put a good night on. The positive feedback from our guests makes it all worth while. Some of the comments we’ve had include:
- ‘Thanks so much for a lovely evening. Everything I expected and more.’
- ‘We had a great night, food was delicious and everyone we met were lovely! Looking forward to another night at the Manor soon!’
- ‘The food was amazing, Pigs ear et al. Thanks for having me again. a very buzzy atmosphere. Pyrotechnics and everything.’
- ‘Thanks so much Susie and Dan for a really bloody lovely evening!’
If you like the sound of our events then do come along, we’d love to have you. We’ve just announced some new 2012 dates so why not book on? £10.50 deposit secures your booking. We cater for all dietary needs and we guarantee a night out you’ll be talking about for ages.