We had a bit of a break from supperclubs over the Christmas period, mainly so that we could take some time out and let other people do the cooking for us! Last weekend we were back with a bang with a menu inspired by Martin Morales’ Ceviche book. These Peruvian treats are usually served at the Soho restaurant of the same name, run by Anglo-Peruvian Morales. We’ve been excited to bring them to the Manor, mainly because we thought the chilli heat and fresh veg would be a good antidote to the festive splurge and January blues!
Over two nights we welcomed 26 guests into the Manor, including an unexpected baby, who didn’t dine in the end! Guests were first treated to our take on a dark and stormy. We had originally planned to serve Pisco, Peru’s national spirit, but Gerry’s had sold out of it, so we bought in some lovely South American rum, full of spicy sweetness. This was mixed up with plenty of ginger beer and lime juice – a welcome aperitif for a stormy evening.
Susie whipped up some tasty canapes to get mouths watering. These included quenelles of spicy butterbean dip, served atop crispy triangles of corn tortilla. It wouldn’t be a South American event without empanadas and this months version came brimming with spiced beef and olive, wrapped in fluffy pastry – perfect with a squeeze of lime! Also served up were golden balls of cassava stuffed with cheese – we do love a golden ball at the Manor! A final amouse bouche of broad bean soup was brought out to finish the canapes. This was purposefully simple and comforting as an antidote to the spicy food to come. Starters included Susie’s take on Don Ceviche. Pieces of fresh cod and sea bass (from Leeds Market) were ‘cooked’ in a marinade of lime juice, Amarillo chilli, ginger and coriander for mere minutes before being served. Susie spiked the ceviches with more chilli, mango and avocado to make a beautifully balanced and exciting mouthful. For non fish eaters there was a beautifully presented causa, a traditional peruvian potato dish – this variation was a coriander potato cake with beetroot salad and sweet potato crisps.
Mains were a bit tricky from the ceviche book as in the restaurant everything is served tapas style. The book has quite a few stews so I opted for some of these and served them family style. These included lamb cooked slowly in coriander and beer. When I tested this out I wasn’t happy with the lamb and so swopped it at the last minute for beef brisket. The beef was cooked for 3-4 hours with a coriander paste, beer, Seville oranges, peppers and Peruvian spices. The beef gave the dish a meaty richness and the orange a lovely sourness. I also prepared fibbing guinea pig (aka chicken!), I’m not sure it’s legal to cook guinea pigs in this country?! I actually pimped the Ceviche recipe as I found the original a bit sweet and bland. I marinated chicken thighs in oregano, garlic and smoked paprika. These were then cooked in white wine, stock and thickened with ground peanuts to make a lovely mole. Both were served with roasted new potatoes and sweet potatoes and Wahaca’s classic green rice. I also rustled up a Peruvian salsa to add freshness to the hearty stews. A sorbet of physallis acted as a gateway to dessert. This was earthy but refreshing. Susie had to peel 1kg of the sticky fruits! Desserts were an intriguing array that included a sour orange flan made with Seville oranges or blackbean pudding. The blackbean pudding played on the Asian influences of Peruvian food. Both were served with avocado ice cream, a bizarre sweet and savoury concoction that tasted almost like unripened bananas but with a tempting creamy edge! Susie’s final flourish were Alfajores, a common treat in Latin America. Short and crumbly shortbread biscuits filled with spiced salted caramel. These nearly broke our guests, but were so moreish no one could resist! We were shattered by our weekend of events, but were very happy to be back in the Manor kitchen! We’re moving back to faithful Ottolenghi next month so keep your eyes peeled for more food porn!