Christmas came early to the Manor as we opened our doors up this weekend for a festive feast inspired by good old Delia. Delia Smith’s Christmas recipe book dates back to the very early 90’s so there were lots of retro treats on our menu!
What’s more, this was the first occasion that we hosted supperclubs on two consecutive nights. Our guests were a mixture of friends, colleagues, family and also newcomers to us and supperclubs!
We were quite apprehensive about there being a lot of guests we knew personally, we’ve had feedback from other supperclub hosts who have said these are the hardest ones to cater for…what were we letting ourselves in for!?
We needn’t have worried though, it was a good mix of characters and everyone enjoyed themselves we hope!
We didn’t know what to expect from running the 2 nights – lots of hardwork and forward planning took place to ensure both nights ran as smoothly as possible! Come Saturday morning we were exhausted but upbeat. It felt a bit odd that we had to prepare exactly the same meal as the night before!
Prep was done in plenty of time, and we were feeling quite laidback about it all though, in fact so laid back that we put our main course in to cook 30 minutes later than we should have! It required 3 hours of slow cooking! Oops! Luckily it cooked in time, but a good lesson learnt – you can never relax too much when running these events, or it can bite you on the bum!
Our guests were welcomed with mulled wine and canapes of sausage rolls, anchovy and prosciutto palmiers and mozerella and tomato appetizers. These seemed to go down well – one guest declared they didn’t like sausage rolls, but then ate 3! Testament to the wonderful flaky pastry and the locally sourced sausage meat!
We offered a choice of 2 starters – a pheasant terrine or roasted peppers with fennel. The terrine was rich, yet light and was served with cheese, onion and sage bread as well as a festive cranberry and red onion confit to cut through the meatiness of the terrine.
The red peppers were served with breadsticks and a parmesan crisp. The sweetness of the pepper was well matched by the spicy tones of the fennel.
To match the starters, we sourced wine from Leeds vineyard, Leventhorpe. Both whites, we chose a Seyval for the peppers and a Madeleine Angevine for the terrine. Read our blog post about our visit there here.
For main course we served a slowly braised venison in a stout and port gravy. The meat is marinated overnight in the alcohol and with herbs to make it really tender, and then the juices are reused in the sauce. The sauce for this was amazing – unctuous, rich and comforting. We were licking the pan once it had gone out! This was served with a creamy celeriac and potato puree, sprouts with bacon, cooked in Riesling and good old parmesan coated, roasted parsnips, which were a triumph. A couple of guests across both evenings told us that they hated them until they had tasted ours!
To help cleanse the palate before the dessert, we served a lychee and stem ginger sorbet which was spicy and aromatic.
After such a rich meal we thought there was no choice other than to end with a trifle! However, this wasn’t just your average sherry trifle – we were taking the lead from Delia after all! This was a decadent caramelised orange trifle, filled with marmalade, Madeira and steeped oranges. Delicious! The trifle was served, as is tradition for Christmas, in a big bowl for guests to dig in and help themselves.
We had so many egg whites left from making the custard that we used them to make mini meringues. These were served on the side to add a bit of texture. We treated guests to a glass of fizz to help wash down the pud.
In addition to the trifle, on the Friday night we had 2 lactose intolerant guests who could not eat the trifle. We whipped up a beautiful champagne jelly for them complete with frosted grapes. A light, yet decadent alternative.
The final flourish to the meal, was as ever cupcakes. Inspired by Delia’s pecan pie, a maple and pecan sponge, soaked in more maple syrup and then topped off with a maple cream cheese frosting and topped with a salted pecan. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get a snap of these, but they were very moreish! This marked the end of our cooking marathon and meant we could go and sit with our guests and have a good old chat.
The manor feels a bit empty and lonely now! we do need a long sleep to recharge my energy supplies but I feel content that we survived our two night challenge! It was hard work but worth it!
Again, thanks to our guests for attending and also to Richard and Nick who, as ever help us so much on the night.
We’ve had some lovely feedback from our guests – Jini, who we know through Clandestine Cake Club has done a lovely write up of her visit to Dinner at the Manor
The Manor’s doors are now closed for the rest of 2011, but we’ll be back in 2012! Merry Christmas!