We’ve had a bit of a break from our supperclub duties as of late, but were back with a bang this weekend for the summer. The inspiration for our latest feast was Jamie Oliver’s Jamie Does book, which sees him travel all over Europe putting his twist on local cuisine. This book appealed to me as it’s so colourful and introduces some really exciting ingredients and dishes that you don’t always find in Jamie’s other books, which are accessible but sometimes a bit predictable. We’re both working full time again now so we’ve stopped our double weekender events to make sure that the hosting experience is an enjoyable one for us!
The menu was a good one to prep for in advance which meant that cooking on the night was calm and serene! We welcomed guests with a summery cocktail of our homemade pear wine mixed with homemade elderflower cordial and sparkling water. It was fruity and fresh and seemed to be enjoyed by everyone. Our canapes, served in the library as usual, were an exotic mix of treats from Spain, Morocco and Sweden. They included slivers of hot chorizo cooked with garlic; briouats – filo pastry wraps of a spiced ratatoille; and home made rye crisp breads topped with a salmon and beetroot gravadlax and creme fraiche. These were colourful and full of flavour – a great start to 6 course meal!
Our guests were welcomed down to the dining room with an amouse bouche of summer minestrone and pesto. The minestrone was delicate and mild and was made using some of our homemade veal stock. The swirl of pesto that is stirred in gave it a rich, cheesy and spicy kick. True to our standards, it was probably a bit big for an amouse bouche, especially as we also served warm seeded rolls!
Now Jamie loves a bit of interaction when it comes to food and we didn’t want to disappoint on this front. Using inspiration from his French Roquefort, bacon and walnut salad we invented the ‘DIY’ salad! Guests were presented with piles of seasonal leaves, dressed with a mustardy dressing, and were invited to pimp their salad with a choice from toasted walnuts, crumbles of Yorkshire Blue cheese, giant croutons and candied bacon. This got everybody talking and meant that people could have as much or as little as they wanted of their favourite ingredients. I personally loved the saltiness of the cheese combined with the sweet bacon. When you candy it (simply dip in brown sugar and then bake for 30 mins) the smokiness of the meat takes on a new magical level that I can’t even describe.
After a small break from food we presented the main courses. There was a choice of Swedish baked trout, which came baked in its own bag with spinach, or Venetian beef steak with a moreish salsa. The trout was lovely and delicate and the flesh was almost like butter. Jamie’s portion sizes frightened us a bit though as the size he suggested was like a whole side of fish! The beef was a beautiful rib from Keelham Hall Farm shop, who are fast becoming our favourite butcher. The meat was marinated in rosemary and then cooked on a low temperature for about two and a half hours. After it had rested for a good hour it yielded succulent and juicy slices of beef. This was topped with a salsa made of tomatoes, chillies, balsamic vinegar and ricotta cheese. It looks and sounds revolting but trust me on this one, it’s delicious! Both mains came with rosemary new potatoes and good old green beans.
By this stage our guests were nearly full to capacity so we brought out our sorbet, which was a red wine sorbet. This is our new secret weapon as it always perks up weary diners and helps them find their dessert stomachs! Speaking of which, this time it was an eton mess tart for pud. This was a naughty combo of whipped cream, kilos of summer berries macerated with elderflower and mint and tons of homemade chewy meringue. We did a bit of a twist on the tart that Jamie suggested by adorning it with homemade orange curd, rather than just orange zest, which can be a bit perfumey. Instead of normal pastry the bases were a chocolatey shortcakey type biscuit. We piped out the ‘mess’ as best we could, but at the end of the day it is meant to be a mess isn’t it?!! Plates came back clean, which I take as a good sign.
We ended on coffee, tea and petit fours. This is where we usually serve Susie’s signature miniature cupcakes, but we thought we’d experiment with something different. Don’t worry the cupcakes haven’t gone for good, we’ll be bringing them back every now and then. Our petit fours were cubes of tablet, which is a rich and buttery crumbly fudge made with lots of condensed milk. Also on offer were bitesize toasted almond Florentines, nutty and chewy!
Our guests this weekend were an absolute delight. They all embraced the supperclub concept wholeheartedly and were chatting away for hours as if they had been friends for life. This really makes our job easy as we can concentrate on the food and hosting without worrying if people are ok. There was a great atmosphere at the Manor and we look forward to welcoming them all back one day. Amongst the crowd was Mario, proprietor of Gusto Italiano, a new food business in Leeds. We’re off to his supperclub next weekend and are very excited as Mario is such a passionate foodie and has promised us a suckling pig and half a lamb! We’d better not eat all week then!