Category Archives: Past Events

Scandi Feast

It’s a couple of weekends ago now but at the end of September we brought hygge to the Manor through our Scandinavian Comfort Food events. We love anything Scandi and the dishes we prepared seemed an apt way to welcome in Autumn. We used some of our favourite Scandi cookbooks as our inspiration.

I wanted to serve aquavit to guests as a welcome tipple, but subsequently couldn’t find any that wasn’t going to break the bank – so I made my own! It’s actually pretty easy to do – simply infuse a good quality vodka with lemon peel, dill, star anise, caraway and fennel seed. It only needs a few days and then strain and chill. It does pack a punch, but I like my booze to be adult!

Our canapés were home cured gravadlax on little rye crackers, served with a creamy mustard and dill sauce. A classic Scandi combination. This was swiftly followed by a cute little frying pan holding a mini open rye sandwich of bacon and quail egg. This was given a Scandi twist with lots of mustard, dill, kale and a dash of truffle oil.

Our first starter was a comforting broth of celeriac and apple and little Swedish meatballs. The meatballs were flavoured with fennel and nutmeg and the broth was finished off with a pretty green dill oil and tangy cloudberry jam.

Next up was a light salad of roasted beetroot, pearled spelt and whipped goats cheese topped with hazelnuts. Another traditional combination, but a riot of vibrant colours, textures and flavours spiked with fennel and raspberry vinegar.

The fish course came courtesy of our Swedish food crush Niklas Ekstedt. In his amazing Stockholm restaurant he cooks everything over open fire and it’s one of the best meals we’ve ever had. His book is lots of fun, but not particularly accessible. I did his hay flamed cod – gently roasted cod was covered in hay at the last minute and then blowtorched. This imparted a lovely smoky flavour and the odd bit of sweet ash! This was served up with a filthy brown butter sauce and potatoes roasted with miso. Pickled cucumber with pink peppercorn helped cut through the extreme sweetness. The flavours were a great balance of sweet, salty, sour and umami. It’s a very special dish that I’ll cook again next time I want to show off a bit! There was lots of plate licking action in the dining room.

The meat course was a rye crusted lamb leg, boned and rolled then coated in a herb and mustard rye crumb crust, served with a classic Swedish Jansson’s temptation. Floury potatoes, cut into matchsticks, with fried onions, thick cream and the umami boost of pickled sprats (Swedish anchovies) baked in the oven. To cut through the rich lamb and the creamy potatoes, this was served with a simple salad of kale and lingonberries. A little early, but it looked like Christmas on a plate!

Dessert this month was Susie’s take on the traditional Scandi dish of Riskrem, which is cold rice pudding and sour cherries. It was Susie’s turn to use the blowtorch and she turned this into a brûléed rice pudding. The cherries were turned into a cherry gel, alongside some fresh cherries and almonds to bring this old school dessert bang up to date. However, we did keep to some Scandi traditions and kept a whole almond in the middle of one brûlée. The lucky recipient of this went home with a prize (as is the tradition at Christmas with this dessert!)

Finally our not so petit fours were mini marzipan cakes. These were nutty, sweet, moist and chewy and topped with a light crème fraiche frosting and some lingonberries – the perfect fika treat with a  coffee!

Next up will be our 6th birthday event, a foray  into Cyprus and Turkey, courtesy of our other food crush Selin Kiazim of Oklava. We’ve already started planning the menu and hunting down the obscure ingredients so watch this space for more news of that!

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Vegetarian Fine Dining

Last weekend we went completely vegetarian. We always aim to cater for all dietary requirements at the Manor but we like to put the veggies first every now and then. I used to be a veggie when I was a student so I don’t really feel like I’m missing out if I don’t have meat. I think these days vegetarian food has a much better reputation, helped by the exciting flavour combinations people are prepared to experiment with – as demonstrated by the likes of our foodie friends at Swine that Dines. They do a monthly veggie small plates menu where I’ve eaten some of the best food of my life.

Flavour is probably the most important aspect of cooking for me, and so we picked a menu that would showcase some strong, spicy and unusual flavours, all in veggie form. In fact most dishes were actually vegan or could be made vegan by omitting the minor dairy elements. People seemed up for it as well, at least two thirds of the crowd were not even vegetarian!

Susie got me a spritz book for my birthday this year and so I’m slowly making my way through it at each supperclub, as the recipes produce such lovely, refreshing aperitifs. This month I picked a Nero Chinato spritz, which was muddled blackberries, cocchi and prosecco. Very late summer inspired!

Our canapes started our veggie tour of the world, the first being ullunde vadi – Sri Lankan street food inspired by my recent travels. These chewy little lentil doughnuts came stuffed with a punchy, sweet and sour onion and chilli relish. Then it was onwards to Mexico with a smoky butternut squash tostada. A crunchy tortilla topped with spicy paprika spiked squash, topped with pink pickled onions and coiander oil.

Next on our culinary tour was Turkey. We’ve said before how our current food obsession is Selin Kiazim of Oklava and so I was keen to test a recipe ahead of our Oklava themed event in October. Ricotta stuffed dumplings came paired with a charred wedge of cabbage, a naughty yoghurt and cream sauce, chilli butter and toasted pinenuts. The sauce could essentially make anything taste nice and the spicy chilli butter cut through all the dairy richness.

Next was a detour to Asia via Greece with a real fusion of a salad consisting of black rice, aubergine, watermelon, feta and sesame! Black rice and griddled aubergines were tossed in a salty, umami miso,ginger and lime dressing and then topped with feta, watermelon and a chilli sesame caramel brittle. The salty savoury flavours were washed away by the watermelon, leaving you ready for another mouthful. This combination sounds bonkers, but our guests seemed to love it!

My Middle Eastern take on a risotto was up next and was packed full of unusual flavours including sumac and preserved lemon. This was topped with little bread and butter pickles, made from tiny Turkish cucumbers. The tart little pickles cut through the creaminess of the risotto and provided a lovely crunch against the comforting softness.

We stayed around the Middle East for Susie’s take on another of Selin’s recipes – chilli roast roast cauliflower. Smeared with sweet and spicy Turkish pepper paste, the cauliflower was roasted and charred and then topped with a tahini sauce, pistachios and pomegranates. A herby bulghur wheat salad accompanied. Roasting cauliflower really brings out the nuttiness of the vegetable yet retains the bite.

And then it was back to the UK for dessert – using a dessert recipe from Edinburgh’s Mark Greenaway. Mark’s recent book ‘Perceptions’ is full of complicated Michelin starred recipes, most of which I will never try. However the dessert section is very colourful and appealing and he breaks down all the steps in a (fairly) accessible way. I tried out the brown sugar cheesecake, bramble sorbet and tomato caramel. This was a beautiful little dish full of unusual flavour combinations. The brown sugar cheesecake was creamy and light and with a touch of butterscotch; the bramble sorbet full of summer hedgerow flavours; and the tomato caramel surprisingly fruity and zesty. It was a bit of a labour of love, but worth it!

And so we proved vegetarian food can be as exciting and fulfilling as anything else, we certainly didn’t miss the meat! Next up is our Scandinavian double bill at the end of September, where we will probably be welcoming in the start of Autumn. You’ll also no doubt have seen that we’ll be taking a wee break after January so that Susie can go on maternity leave (not my baby I hasten to add!). If you’ve managed to book on to our last round of events, then well done! If not then keep an eye on the blog and on twitter as we’ll advertise any cancellations as they arise.

Vive la France

Back in mid July, we kicked off our summer run of events at the Manor with a French feast to celebrate Bastille day. We wanted to bring some familiar French classic flavours, but with a twist. We didn’t base the whole supperclub on a particular book, but many of the dishes did come from the likes of Rachel Khoo and Rick Stein.

Guests were welcomed with a refreshing Lillet and ginger spritz. Lillet is a French vermouth, quite sweet, tangy and floral. This longer drink came with lemon, basil, preserved ginger and sparkling water – very refreshing and tasty! Our canapés included  “pizza crackers” – mini cheesy shortbreads topped with slow roast tomatoes. The second canape was a delightful combination of queenie scallops and a zesty sauce vierge. The sweet scallops paired well with the tang of the tomatoes and the saltiness of the capers in the sauce.

The first starter was a French classic, onion soup – but with a twist! This version came with at least five onions (white, spring, shallots, garlic, pickled) and the slightly unusual addition of liquorice. The liquorice was not over powering but gave a smooth, salty, aniseedy finish to the rich soup. This was followed by a boudin noir croquette with celeriac remoulade – essentially a celeriac coleslaw made with creme fraiche and lemon zest, which cut through the soft, salty richness of the black pudding nicely.

 

Onto the mains, which started with a delightful dish of lavender, honey and lemon chicken. Floral food haters need not fear, the lavender was not flowery at all – and the chicken was marinated in a fair bit of it! In fact it imparted more of a deep, smoky flavour. The chicken came with a warm, mustardy potato salad and freshly podded broad beans.

The second main was a hearty “peasant” style dish of crispy pork belly, lentils and a sauce verte. Another hearty dish, with the soft and crisp belly, bacon and wine rich lentils cut through with a herby green sauce of parsley, capers, anchovies and mustard.

Hopefully our guests weren’t too full by the time we got to dessert, which was a sweet, nutty and crisp almond tart paired with merlot poached cherries, creme fraiche ice cream and toasted almonds.

Our final flourish were the petit fours which were home made caramels spiked with warming spices and sea salt crystals.

The was an enjoyable and laid back event to kick start the summer, with a wonderful array of guests old and new having travelled as far as the US! In a couple of weeks we’ll be hosting our vegetarian fine dining events. We’ve pulled together our menu and all it’s very exciting.

Also, we’ve just about agreed on dates and themes for our autumn / winter events for 2017 and they’ll be on sale soon…Get in quick as I’ll be off having a baby, so a short break, before heading back into hosting in Spring 2018!!

Big Brunch Challenge

It’s Leeds Indie Food fortnight! And what better way to celebrate than do something a little different at the Manor. Last year was our first involvement with this brilliant festival, you may recall we did a filthy supperclub with lots of naughty but tasty treats – like ox cheek doughnuts!

We love Leeds Indie Food as it’s a great opportunity to try something different and expose our little supperclub to a new clientele. We racked our brains on what to do, and then it hit me at 3am one morning – BRUNCH! We love brunch, it’s probably our favourite meal. There are no rules or boundaries, just tasty food, and preferably some spice to get the metabolism going, or to conquer those hangovers! We also thought that brunch would be a great way to make the supperclub a bit more accessible for people. Committing to a dinner over a whole evening can be too much for some people when there’s so much on at the festival. Plus when we’re pairing booze to our dinners the cost can be as much as £50pp which just isn’t affordable for everybody.

And so our brunch supperclub concept was born. But we couldn’t leave it there, as we love a challenge. The challenge came in the form of doing not one, not two, not three, but four sittings across two days. No small feat in a semi detached house in suburban West Leeds! And yes it nearly broke us. But we did it!!

We couldn’t host a brunch without starting with our favourite breakfast cocktail – the red snapper. Not to be confused with the fish, which would be gross, this is the original bloody mary, but made with gin. To keep it local we used Leeds Gin, which is made by the lovely Sara Birkenshaw in Hunslet, only a couple of miles away from the Manor. The gin itself is beautiful – very botanical and almost sweet. I could easily slurp it over ice but Sara recommends slices of fresh ginger and orange peel in a gin and tonic. Sara is often at the local farmers markets – we picked up our gin from Kirkstall deli market. I’m sure we completely obliterated the botanical qualities of the gin in our very spicy cocktails, but they were tasty nonetheless. We kept our snappers very classic – tomato juice, lemon juice, fino sherry, tobasco, Worcester sauce, white pepper and celery salt. However I like to lighten mine with a bit of orange juice (which is a trick I learnt from Pintura) which makes it a bit less of a glass of cold soup.

Now for this event we weren’t really using a specific cookbook as a theme, however at least 50% of the recipes were from Dan Doherty of Duck and Waffle fame – probably the best brunch restaurant outside of Leeds! Our first snack was a smoked haddock scotch egg paired with a curry mayo. Soft boiled eggs encased in rich, spiced smoked haddock, which is a play on Kedgeree, the spicy, smoky brunch dish from India.

For starters I really wanted to serve up a waffle with a difference. After much research I designed a very savoury batter of buttermilk, cornmeal, paprika, cheddar, jalapeno and spring onion. This created a very smoky and umami waffle that had hints of fried cheese from the cheddar. This came paired with little pans of spiced beef shin ragu topped with a four cheese mac n cheese (gruyere, parmesan, emmenthal and more cheddar). This was rich and comforting and full of spice (again!).

For main course Susie created yet another dish, this time in the form of a burger! A Mexican inspired burger consisting of a soft brioche bun filled with a home made pork chorizo patty (Susie used a River Cottage recipe), guacamole, pink pickled onions, Monterey Jack cheese, a corn fritter and chipotle mayo.

Finally, for dessert, I wanted to inject a bit more fun using some quite recognisable ingredients in a slightly surprising way. Mini banana bread loaves, with a salted caramel core, came doused in a naughty Nutella mousse and an even naughtier peanut, maple milkshake to wash it all down with! This was sweet and salty at its best.

Our guests were a fun bunch and it was great to see some new faces at the manor and some hardcore Leeds Indie food fans too! We managed our challenge of serving 48 guests 192 plates of food over 6 hours of service! But we probably won’t try it again!

Next up we have a much more sedate affair, which will be a French Lunch the day after Bastille day in July. This will be French classics with a bit of a twist. Whilst most events are now fully booked, we do have one spare space for our Veggie Fine Dining lunch on 11th August. To book on click here.

A very long weekend!

We have been very much overdue some evening supperclub events and so a few weeks ago we hosted not one but two and threw some craft beer in for good measure! Rick Stein’s lovely ‘Long Weekends’ book was our muse. If you’ve seen the accompanying TV series he went all over Europe in search of good food. Our resulting menu could have been a bit random to be honest, what with all that culinary choice. But we think we nailed it, if we do modestly say so ourselves!

Our beer pairings came courtesy of North Brewing, brewed only a few miles away from the Manor at Sheepscar. North Brewing beer is probably some of our favourite beers at the moment – fresh and full of flavour. Lucky guests got four cans to sup at their leisure. This included a Kolsch style lager, a couple of very strong IPAs (my favourite being the punchy and hoppy Transmission) and a coffee, coconut porter.

Our canapés took guests to Copenhagen at first and came in the form of little Frikadeller, which are cod fishcakes spiked with a curried remoulade sauce. The fishcakes came crammed with cod and no potato filler whatsoever. I could literally eat the remoulade on everything, it’s the ultimate tartare sauce. Our next location was Berlin, with what seemed a very British canape – rare seared beef with horseradish cream, but encased in a choux bun, a spin on roast beef and Yorkshire puddings!

Starters took us to Reykjavik in the first instance, with a very delicate Icelandic fish soup. This was an unusual combination of ingredients that was a hit in the dining room. A creamy, buttery fish soup was poured over sour apple and gently poached hake and anointed with pink peppercorn and dill oil. Very refined, pretty and very tasty! Next up was Susie’s arancini salsicca from Palermo. A rich saffron risotto ball stuffed with fennel spiked sausage meat and deep fried, paired with a sweet and sharp tomato and basil sauce.

For mains Cadiz was our next stop with a very simple but flavourful griddled mackerel (fresh from Leeds market that day) paired with a pirinaca salad of tomato, onion and peppers. Such clean fresh ingredients needed to sing for themselves. Next we detoured to Vienna for a very rustic pickled cabbage leaf stuffed with pork and paprika and served with buttery parsley potatoes. This was a very comforting and warming dish with the cabbage having flavours of yummy sauerkraut.

Dessert took us to Bordeaux with Susie’s flourless chocolate cake from Aquitaine. A light yet rich cake, this was paired with shards of almond biscuit, salted chocolate ganache, Chantilly cream and fresh and freeze dried raspberries. A wonderfully decadent mouthful indeed!

Our final destination was Spain because what else could we serve for petit four, after all that food, than deep fried rice pudding. Yep that’s right! These are the best doughnuts you’ll ever try. Lemony, vanilla rice pudding, crammed with boozy raisins, deep fried til golden and then rolled in cinnamon sugar. What’s not to like?!

So, that’s it for a few months from us. We’re back in May for our sold out Big Brunch events for Leeds Indie Food. We’ll be taking time off in June as well but do keep an eye out this Spring for tickets to our July, August, September events. See you soon!

Ottolenghi (and friends!)

Now the excitement of the Leeds Indie Food 2017 ticket release has passed (thanks to all those who’ve booked on!) Here are a few details of the inspired by Ottolenghi event at the Manor the other weekend. I say ‘inspired’ because we messed around with the recipes that much that they probably weren’t that Ottolenghi in the end! The aforementioned chef has re-released his very first cookbook, complete with sexy new front cover. We’ve cooked many an Ottolenghi recipe over the years and whilst we’ve never hosted a supperclub from the his first book, we knew it would be a reliable and rewarding muse. What we’ve come to love Ottolenghi for is his simple approach to cooking – flavour comes first, then colour and then use of the most basic, straightforward cooking techniques so as not to compromise on either.

We started proceedings with canapés of cauliflower fritters and beef tacos. The fritter was soft and comforting, packed full of spice from chilli, cinnamon and cumin. Ottolenghi spikes his with a tart limey yoghurt and I couldn’t resist also dabbing on a mango chutney/ lime pickle combo to create a very flavourful mouthful. The taco was an adaptation of Ottolenghi’s beef fillet with watercress and mustard sauce stuffed in a soft taco!

The starters included a seafood and fennel salad and roasted aubergine with saffron yoghurt. The salad was a bit like a seafood slaw, which makes it sound horrible when it absolutely isn’t! Shaved fennel was marinated in sumac, coriander, chilli, dill and lots of lime juice. Fresh baby squid and king prawns were fried in salt and pepper and added to the mix. This was sweet, soft and crunchy – an unexpected taste sensation! The aubergine salad is what many regard as an Ottolenghi classic – his griddled aubergine with saffron yoghurt. Soft smoky aubergine, smothered in floral saffron yoghurt, spiked with basil and pomegranate.

The mains added yet more flavours into the mix and came in the form of a mushroom ragout and harissa spiced chicken. The ragout was not technically an Ottolenghi recipe but was inspired by a cheesy polenta porridge recipe I had spied of his in the Guardian. I wanted something hearty and seasonal to pair with it and stumbled across this top mushroom ragout recipe. A ton of mushrooms were cooked up in tasty sauce of marsala wine and porcini mushrooms and served atop a cornmeal porridge crammed full of parmesan cheese goodness. This was layer after layer of umami tastes and was a big hit in the dining room, perfect for a cold winter’s day. The chicken dish was a wild rice and quinoa salad, topped with harrissa chicken. Chicken thighs were marinated in homemade harissa paste and then roasted and served with the salad. A spicy, fresh affair with the chilli heat of the chicken tempered by the sharp, citrus and sweet elements of the salad.

We turned from winter to summer for our dessert which was a bright little clementine polenta cake. Again, not an Ottolenghi recipe as I wanted a cake that was entirely gluten free. These little polenta cakes were topped with a slice of caramelised clementine and even had the whole fruit inside the cake mix. They were doused in a sweet clementine syrup and came with a smear of clementine curd – a celebration of the little citrus fruit! I paired it with an orange blossom, pistachio and honey ice cream – again not an Ottolenghi recipe but actually a Sabrina Ghayour one, so not far off!

Our final offering with coffees were little almond florentines. Unlike traditional florentines, these were simple, orange zest spiked biscuits that whilst simple in appearance packed a punch.

So, whilst we may have strayed a little from our original intention of hosting an Ottolenghi supperclub, I think what it demonstrates is that these days a lot of people are doing Ottolenghi style food and when he first released his original book that was far from the case, which must be a good thing surely?!

Anyway, we’ll be back next in March with another beer and food supperclub which we’re very excited about!

Shall we fika?!

We dispelled all January blues a couple of weekends ago  when we brought the wonders of Scandinavian fika and hygge to the Manor! Fika is a Swedish term for a kind of coffee break, a conscious pause in the day to stop, reflect and enjoy a liquid refreshment and baked good! Hygge is that intriguing Scandinavian term for all things cosy, except we don’t have an English word for it so it’s nigh on impossible to explain! We created a lovely afternoon tea using the new Fika and Hygge cookbook from the guys at London’s Scandi Kitchen and some of our other favourites including Scandilicious.

Our adventurous diners were welcomed with a revitalising shot of aquavit – the Scandi water of life that comes flavoured with fennel and caraway. We served it Swedish style, over lots of ice and bitingly cold.

Our Nordic savouries included homemade rye crisp breads with caraway. These were topped with a soft gravadlax mousse and home pickled samphire – a creamy, salty and sour mini bite. Our rye bread open sandwiches came topped with a luscious dill mayonnaise, soft boiled egg and tomato.

Also on offer was a creamy, decadent mushroom tart. Mushroom, tarragon and shed loads of creme fraiche, baked and encased in a crisp shortcrust pastry shell. Finally was our take on Swedish meatballs! Little pork and fennel balls, with a dill and cucumber pickle and cranberry, wrapped in a soft home made brioche roll.

For our sweets we tried to use some seasonal produce and also serve some slightly unusual bakes. For seasonality our first nod to fika was a cute little rhubarb and custard bun spiked with cardamom and drenched in rhubarb syrup. A last minute addition to the tiers was a lightly spiced gingerbread cake filled with a raspberry cream. We had initially intended for this to be a Danish honey cake square but having tried the recipe twice over we could not get it to work and so had to bake a last minute alternative! To make up for the lack of honey cake we also offered an extra treat in the form of a mini fig tart. These were soft and chewy almond cakes filled with a lovely fig jam.

If that wasn’t enough other fika treats included mini cardamom buns filled with almond custardThese buns are traditionally served at Easter – almost a baked Scandi version of a doughnut! To finish off was the traditional Swedish chocolate sticky cake, Kladdkaka. A rich, dense chocolate cake with a gooey centre. This was served with fresh raspberries and clotted cream to make it even more decadent!

So, we’re glad to have started 2017, but it was a bit of a stressful event to break us into the new year! I’m not sure I’d recommend the Scandi Kitchen book – as beautiful as it is the recipes are complicated, confusing and not always very reliable! Having said that it’s Ottolenghi coming up next in February – now you can’t get more reliable than that! See you then…