This weekend we channelled our inner greediness as we opened up the Manor for an autumnal feast inspired by 90s gems the Two Fat Ladies. Susie and I have recently picked up this retro cookbook from charity shops and were keen to put it to good use. Full of game, hearty ingredients and no nonsense directions it’s a fun book to work with – or so we thought!…
We spent months picking the right dishes for our November menu and putting them to the test. It soon transpired that we were wise to do this as not all the recipes were foolproof, or even that tasty!
We kickstarted our meal with a welcome drink of sloe gin fizz that was spiced up with ginger syrup and lime juice. This was paired with Susie’s elegant canapes of scotch eggs made with quail eggs. These differed to Jennifer and Clarissa’s version, which suggested chopped ham and anchovy instead of the seasoned sausage meat that Susie used. Also on offer were crostini topped with poor man’s caviar (a smoked aubergine pate, baba ganouch) and deliciously sweet crab, coriander and corn fritters – both of which we’re afraid to say were also slightly adapted!
Our amuse bouche for the evening were shots of onion and ale soup, made with jammy onions and local bitter. The TFL version was a bit bland so I pimped it up with my secret ingredient of Marmite! The starter was a spicy fishcake made with home salted Whitby cod and sweet potato. The slightly unusual flavours were paired with a tangy red pepper and black olive tapenade. For our non fish eaters I rustled up some homemade sweet potato gnocchi. These were fun to make and a nice alternative to traditional gnocchi.
Four hours of slow roasting was all our main course required! This provided guests with a melt in the mouth shoulder of pork roasted with caraway, apple, orange, figs and red wine. This unusual dish is an Elizabethan recipe and produced luscious pork and a Chrismassey tasting sauce. The pork was served up with braised greens and potatoes boulangere. Susie also put together a beautiful salsa verde that cut through the richness of the meat. For our non meat eater I put together a lovely fish dish of halibut in cider. The cider mixes with the cooking fish to make a sweet and yummy sauce. It was a great alternative to the mighty pig!
Inspired by the TFL dish of cherries jubilee Susie concocted a wonderful sour cherry sorbet that refreshed our guests and tantalised their tastebuds. This was followed by a rich and decadent gingerbread pudding with sticky ginger wine sauce. I actually used Delia’s recipe for this as the TFL version proved a bit dry and dull. Guests were left salivating over the sauce with one stating she could bathe in it!! It’s certainly one I’ll be making again – we were shovelling down the leftovers in the kitchen!
Nearing the end of our enjoyable meal guests were treated to one of Susie’s classic cupcakes – lemon meringue. This was a soft and moist sponge, filled with lemon curd and topped with a chewy meringue – beautiful!
Overall we found the Two Fat Ladies a difficult supperclub to prepare for, just because the recipes all needed so much tweaking! This might be because the modern palate and common cooking techniques have moved on since the popularity of the ladies, I don’t really know! However the book was a good one for inspiration and it was reassuring that we could add our own touches to bring the recipes up to date and we were pleased with the results on the night.
Our guests were a fab lot of foodies. We loved chatting away to them about favourite restaurants and foodie hang outs. It felt like we had a group of old friends round at the Manor rather than people who, on the whole, we had never met before! Many were on their first supperclub visit, so we were glad to welcome them into the gang! We hope to see them all again soon.