We went back in time to the Victorian era at the weekend for Dinner the Manor’s supperclub inspired by Mrs Beeton. We hunted out delicious and unusual recipes from her classic Household Management to give guests a taste of times gone by.
Upon arrival guests were treated to a cocktail consisting of home brewed ginger beer and pear vodka. The ginger beer was actually quite easy to make and came spiked with lemongrass flavours as well as firey ginger – it was so fizzy and we were were afraid the bottles were on the verge of exploding! Luckily they didnt! The pear vodka had been infused last summer with some of the Manor’s bounty of pears.
Canapes included classics such as potted shrimp on toast, sherried mushroom vol au vents and cheese straws. The latter two were created using homemade puff pastry. I had never made this before and will now always make my own puff pastry as it was so fun to do – why not give it a go? Dan Lepard has a fantastically straight forward recipe if you check out his Short and Sweet book. Our amouse bouche was a shot of oxtail mulligatawny
We served smoked haddock cocottes for the starter. Cocotte is a way of cooking eggs in a receptacle and so Beeton’s version was a ramekin filled with cream, undyed smoked haddock, a duck egg, more cream, Gruyère, Parmesan and herbs. These were served with beautiful little rye rolls that were flavoured with fennel and black pepper, a lovely contrast to the cream. The cocottes seemed to take forever to cook on the night! We had a bit of a panic with the runny yolks but we got there in the end!
The main course started cooking at 1pm, in true Mrs Beeton slow cooking style. This was a rich stew of braised beef short ribs. Short ribs are an underused cut of meat in this country and they require a long slow cook. They have a proper beefy taste that you don’t find with all cuts of beef. The ribs came in a rich gravy of porter and a jellied beef stock made of beef bones that had taken two days to cook. We served the beef with stoved potatoes which are spuds cooked in a buttery liquor that simmers down to a lovely glaze. We also served ‘boiled salad’ which consisted of green beans, celery, endive, lettuce and herbs all brought together by an old fashioned salad dressing that had many bizarre ingredients in it (including milk and icing sugar – I kid you not!), it seemed to go down well!
Mini pots of lemon sorbet were brought round to refresh everybody and then we handed over to our talented friend Jo Stephenson for some light musical entertainment. We don’t tend to try and enforce fun activities at the Manor, but all of our guests really enjoyed Jo’s performance of songs from her debut album and new show Can You Dig it? She’ll be playing in Leeds again on 11th July at the Carriageworks, so keep an eye out for her! We were thrilled that she wrote us a song all about the life of Mrs Beeton. We’re hoping she’ll let us publish the lyrics!
Pud was a plum frangipane tart served with plums poached in red wine, plum and red wine syrup and vanilla parfait – delicious! The frangipane was not overpowered by almond flavour and Susie’s pastry was perfectly crisp and short.
After coffees and Susie’s trademark cupcakes (sticky toffee pudding this time) guests retired to rest their full bellies. We hope Jo left with some new fans and we certainly enjoyed talking to our guests who were new to the Manor and also those guests who were back for more.
Next up is our Ottolenghi and Innis & Gunn event in April, a world away from the traditional meaty fayre of Mrs Beeton. We’re very excited about sharing new favours with our guests!