We went all French and kooky this weekend when we held an afternoon tea inspired by Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen cookbook. This was a private event for a gaggle of hens who were celebrating the impending wedding of bride to be Lisa. Following a can can lesson in town they joined us for a selection of savouries and sweets washed down with teas, coffees and the obligatory kir royale. There was not a willy deelie-bopper in sight, and very well behaved they all were too!
This was a private event and we only do afternoon teas every now and then, on request. We like the fact that we can do far more in advance, plus it means we get to break away from the norm we have established with our usual Manor menus. We both love baking too, so it’s great to have a chance to challenge ourselves in this area.
Once again, we were without expert photographer Nick, however Susie did manage to take some snaps with her phone!
In terms of savouries we served up a range of treats inspired by Rachel’s book. I adapted the Nicoise wraps, stuffing the salad inside tortilla wraps instead of the suggested lettuce leaves, to make them a bit more substantial. I was impressed by the flavours of these – which consisted of sweet and crunchy green beans, radish, spring onion and tomatoes; piquant black olives and capers; and creamy free range egg – all bound together with a yummy red wine vinegar and lemon juice dressing. Atop homemade bread was a choice of radish with salted butter or a decadent fig, goat cheese and walnut option.
Susie’s offerings included gigantic platters of roasted root veg (including carrots, parsnips beetroot and apple). This was accompanied by a luxurious and creamy goats cheese mousse and was a popular addition to the table – only a few smears of beetroot and mousse were left! Susie also adapted the croque madame muffin recipe, making mini little bites of loveliness from quail eggs.
We did not hold back with the sweets, which was unlucky for our hens as they were off dancing later! Susie prepared delicate little madelines which were filled with a light and creamy home made lemon curd and raspberries. These were sweet and airy and pretty to look at. Also available was a soft and velvety raspberry and almond tart. Susie’s pastry is always flaky and short, which I love. This contrasted well with the moist almond filling and the sweet sharpness of the raspberries.
I adapted the pepper meringue and grapefruit tarts by swapping the biscuit base (which I thought would be too heavy) with the joconde sponge I had learnt to make on my course at Betty’s. The sponge cases were filled with lashings of homemade grapefruit curd, so that when you cut into them it oozes out luxuriously. The tarts were topped with a slightly tricky Italian meringue. This was piped onto the top of the tarts and given a final blast under a hot grill. They were pretty to look at and unusual enough to get tastebuds excited. The pepper gave a fantastic spicy kick, although next time I may experiment with white pepper, which is a bit finer. I also prepared mini little choux buns (chouqettes) dusted with sugar, which were sweet and moreish!
We worked with a range of people to get the party ready. We hired in vintage crockery from Leeds based Add Vintage. This gave a lovely look to the dining room and has inspired us to start collecting our own set – charity shops beware!! Our eggs were supplied by my manager who has a small holding in Otley. She had to lock her hens in for a week so that she’d have time to find the 36 eggs that I needed for my patisserie! We made it to 35 by the end of the week, and that’s only because her daughter ate 3 without realising! The eggs were a joy to cook with, really tasty and with lovely orange yolks.
In great news, we’ll be doing a full Manor feast based on Rachel’s book as we’ve not really had a French theme yet. We’ll be announcing our 2013 dates later this autumn, so do keep an eye out on this website for them. In the meantime if you fancy your own vintage tea party, held in lovely Victorian surroundings, then do get in touch with us. We can cater for 8 to 12 guests in one sitting. Do get in touch with us to discuss your needs.