French Fodder!

Last month was our Rachel Khoo inspired French event. We’ve now done a few events using recipes from the ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ book, including a private supperclub and an afternoon tea. We like Rachel’s peasant style recipes paired with her stunning patisserie (she trained as a pattisiere). We found that the recipes don’t always work, as Rachel cooks in such a small oven at home where she created her recipes, and so we had to test everything thoroughly in advance.

Our guests were welcomed with a classic Kir royale, it couldn’t be any other cocktail for a French theme could it?! These were joined by canapes of lettuce cups, filled with crunchy nicoise style veg, creamy egg and lemony dressing; quail egg mini croque madame muffins (now a firm Manor favourite!); and crostini topped with a fresh and punchy ratatouille. Our amouse bouche was shots of Rachel’s creamy potato and cauliflower soup. This soup can be served hot or cold and the cauliflower makes it the silkiest soup I’ve ever tasted.

Starters were a choice of onion and creme fraiche tart or pork rillettes with homemade bread and onion marmalade. The base of the tart was almost like a pizza, nice and chewy. The creme fraiche turned cheese-like as it baked and the sweet red onions caramelised to create a wonderful combination. Rachel’s rillettes recipe did not work for Susie and so she went off-piste and made up her own. Slow cooked pork belly and pork cheeks were shredded and served up with onion marmalade for a very meaty take on pate.

As food had been quite heavy up until now, we decided to serve a fairly light main course. This was a cassoulet style soup, with duck and Toulouse sausage dumplings. Rachel cheats and bypasses hours of cooking by injecting flavour into her broth with smoked bacon, sun dried tomatoes and porcini mushrooms. Not the most traditional of cooking methods, but actually produces an incredibly intense and complex bouillon. The dumplings were made by processing duck breast and sausages – not the most pleasant of tasks on a Saturday morning, but which produced a very tender meatball full of flavour from fennel, caraway, white wine and bacon. The soups were paired with my attempt at lavender and rosemary fougasse. This classic French bread took about 24 hours to make but the fermented dough gave it a lovely crispy and chewy crust that made it all worthwhile!

This month’s palate cleanser was a granita of pineapple and mint (aka ananas et menthe granite) served up snow like. This is not from Rachel’s book and we certainly enjoyed the leftovers in our cocktails!

Dessert was the pink grapefruit curd and pepper meringue tartlets first showcased at our Rachel Khoo afternoon tea. These had been very popular back then and so I felt the need to bring them out again. Elegantly served on vintage tea plates, these tarts had a sponge base filled with homemade grapefruit curd and then topped with a swirl of Italian meringue, spiked with white pepper. I fear I may have over peppered but the combination with the citrus curd is one not to miss!

Susie excelled herself with her salted caramel macarons. Her recent trip to Paris has reignited her love for these little treats and I think soon they may replace her penchant for cupcakes. These little morsels were sweet and yummy and perfect for rounding off a decadent meal.

Next up at the Manor we are hosting a Chinese inspired supperclub. We’re looking forward to this one as we always enjoy cooking with new and intriguing ingredients. We’ve had quite a few enquiries about future events recently. Currently we’re booked up until June, but we do plan to announce dates for July, August and September supperclubs at somepoint in May. Watch this space! The best way to find out about these dates first is to follow this blog (link on the right) or follow us on twitter (@dine_leeds). See you soon!

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