Afternoon tea came to Dinner the Manor this weekend. We’re not about to diversify just yet but we had a private event on and a tea seemed a nice casual way of feeding everyone without stretching ourselves too much a week before our veggie feasts.
Readers will know that we LOVE Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet book, which is mainly recipes from his popular Guardian column. The book is great because its unique techniques have reinvented baking for us and the recipes are ultra reliable and fun to do. It’s a proper compendium of baking and has top tips for absolutely any baked good. Despite a slightly off-putting comment from Dan’s publicist when we published the menu on the site, we ploughed ahead with the theme. I sometimes worry if we are open to criticism from food writers for using their books as the basis of our events but at the end of the day we are not professionals and using books have taught us to improve as home cooks. I know of a handful of people who have bought Dan’s book as a result of my recommendation and our events prove to people that recipes can work. Surely our events are the best form of flattery?!
Anyway onto the food. For savouries, Susie offered the guests sandwiches made with deliciously soft spelt and ale bread. These were filled with a sweet and creamy curried egg, lentil and parsley (a bit of a veggie take on coronation chicken) or rare roast beef and mustard. I made bagels which were so much fun to make and relatively easy. The dough is boiled briefly to make it nice and chewy and the holes are made by twizzling balls of the dough on your finger! I filled them with mature cheddar and rhubarb chutney and smoked salmon and whipped cream cheese.
Susie is a bit of a dab hand with anything porky so she was requested to make her spiced sausage rolls which have a beautiful orange spicy puff pastry. The veggie option were goats cheese and butternut squash. I am a born again puff pastry maker and so did Dan’s light and crisp spelt pastry which he dubs as being ‘the healthy option’ due to the added roughage! I served this as tarts piled high with either spiced tomato and chorizo or red pepper, olive tapenade and capers. These were both melt in the mouth and full of flavour.
After a quick break for the grand national we moved onto the sweets. Susie supplied decadent mini meringues with strawberries, cream and rose water. These were as beautiful in the mouth as they were on the eye. She also made some of her trademark cupcakes – carrot, pistachio and honey. These were moist and sweet. I am the less neat of us and so provided some quirky rhubarb and custard choux buns which have started my foray into patisserie. I also trialled the chocolate cake we’re serving this weekend at our Ottolenghi inspired event (so not a Dan recipe). It contains no flour and stayed quite liquidy when being baked – however it provided the gooiest, chocliatest brownie type cake I have eaten in a long time. We served it with a sharp Greek yoghurt and smashed raspberries to counter balance the fudgy chocolate richness.
Drinks were good old tea and coffee supplemented by homemade lemonade. The lemonade is a revelation as it’s easy to make and very cost effective. 10 lemons gives you about 5 pints of drink so it’s well worth a try. I used Nigella’s recipe.
So, the tea was a success and we enjoyed how clean and tidy the kitchen was afterwards as we had done all the cooking way in advance! We’re open for private events like this. So if you’d to have one of your own for any special occasion then do get in touch with us and we can discuss your needs. We serve anything from 8 to 14 guests.