Tag Archives: food

Foodie Chronicles of Christmas

Earlier this December we got the tree up and cooked up a melange of festive treats for our annual Christmas supperclub. Initially we’d picked the new Rick Stein ‘Road to Mexico’ book as our inspiration, to give a bit of a Central American twist to the traditional festive fare. However once we’d seen the book and accompanying series we were disappointed to find it a bit dull (sorry Rick!). Cue Nigel Slater to the rescue with his very endearing Christmas Chronicles offering – a festive take on his gorgeous kitchen diaries. And so our new theme was born – apologies to those who were looking forward to Rick, I’m sure we’ll revisit him again sometime in the new year!

The good thing about Nigel is that his recipes can be very simple but with some unusual and unexpected flavour combinations. So hopefully our menu did not let down, especially as it tried to veer away from boring Christmas fare. We started proceedings with a cocktail that was two weeks in the making. Sweet muscat wine, brandy, sugar, orange peel, dried apricots and star anise were steeped for a fortnight. Nigel serves this chilled as an after dinner tipple, but we lightened ours with a bit of prosecco to make a very seasonal aperitif.

Our canapés were mini versions of some of Nigel’s strong supper dishes. First up was a tiny version of his smoked fish pie. Rather than being topped with mash, these were little puff pastry parcels filled with a filthy filling of smoked salmon, smoked mackerel, cream and tarragon. I massively over estimated quantities and so now have a few large ones in the freezer ready for a rainy day! Second up were mini dishes of a leftover Christmas staple, bubble and squeak. This was brought bang up do date using sweet potatoes and Kale, paprika and chilli. To make this more luxurious, blue cheese was added to the mix and this was all topped off with a fried quail egg.

Our soup offering was a simple cauliflower and leek soup topped with a crouton of sourdough and toasted cheese. I made the soup a little more festive with the addition of chive oil and crushed pink peppercorn, which gave it a lovely peppery after taste. The crouton was homemade sourdough, courtesy of the fab course I did at Leeds Cookery School, and topped with Leeds Blue (a locally made Pecorino courtesy of our friend Mario Olianas, an award winning cheesemaker).

Also for the second of the starters, we looked to Italy for inspiration. Susie made little balls of gnudi, a light dumpling made from ricotta and parmesan. These need a minimum of 24 hours chilling on a bed of semolina to to form a skin that holds the dumpling together. This is an important step as they will disintegrate upon boiling otherwise! The dumplings were sat atop a herby pesto made of basil, pine nuts, lemon and avocado for extra richness.

We served the best of the meats for our main courses, and no turkey was to be seen anywhere! First up was an amazing piece of pork belly from the guys at Tancred Farm. They’re based out York/ Wetherby way and are always at the Leeds farmers markets. They rear their own pigs and the meat is of an incredible quality and at competitive prices as you’re buying straight from the producer. I braised the belly in pear cider for 3-4 hours, pressed it overnight, marinated it in miso, mustard and honey and then roasted it until it was soft, charred and crispy round the edges. The pork was super moist and the marinade an amazing musky, umami – I’m putting it on everything from now on, it’s even good on a piece of meaty cod! It was served up with a lightly pickled pear, roasted slices of pumpkin, dukka (a dry nutty, seedy, spice mix), pork jus and crackling crisps. Very colourful on the plate and full of bursts of flavour.

Our final meat celebration was a meltingly tender seared beef skirt from the wonderful butchers at Keelham Farm Shop which is literally on Susie’s doorstep. This was sat atop a mound of creamy, cheesy spinach polenta and then brought together with a fresh, zesty, herbed gremolata.

Our final course was Susie’s decadent Christmassy dessert of set chocolate mousse, which was served with a mascarpone cream, salted caramel sauce and hazelnut praline. A brilliant combination of rich chocolate, sweet caramel, creamy mascarpone and the crunch of the nuts and caramel.

We’ve become a bit infamous for our not so petit fours (aka Grand Fours) and so not to be out down I rustled up Nigel’s fig and orange shortbreads. These are a cross between a fig roll and a mince pie. Essentially its a sweet, nutty, zesty shortbread dough with a figgy filling baked inside. They’re not too sweet and have a drier texture than a mince pie. We served these in halves as they were so humongous!

As it’s Christmas we sent our guests home with little take home treats as a gift. These included yet more humongous shortbreads and a mini Christmas cake topped with a marzipan star. Nigel has a few cake recipes in the book, and this basic one is a light fruit cake that focuses on fruit and citrus zest rather than spice. So if you’re not a Christmas cake fan, you might still like this.

So that’s it for this year. We do technically have a Georgian lunch in early January – unless Susie gives birth early! In which case I might have to weigh up how much I can do on my own! Although I’ve had lots of lovely offers of help, so I might be ok!

In terms of the rest of 2018, we’re likely to be back once Susie has settled into motherhood. In the meantime I’m in the process of setting up some events with a twist for Feb and March. I’ll be going on tour in the North Leeds area, as a big proportion of our customer base is from there. It’ll be the same Manor experience but in an exciting new venue. Watch this space for ticket details. I’ll try and get these out before Christmas in case people want to buy tickets as a present for a loved one. If you’re not already signed up to the blog then make sure you do as that’s the best way to be alerted once tickets go on sale.

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December 2017 Menu: Nigel Slater’s Christmas

This coming weekend we’ll be hosting two consecutive evenings where we’ll be celebrating all things Christmas!  Using Nigel Slater’s beautiful book The Christmas Chronicles as our inspiration we’ll be cooking up a number of not-so traditional festive treats for our diners.

We’re really looking forward to bringing some Christmas cheer and spirit at the weekend. We’d love to know what you think.

Oklava – 6th Birthday Supperclub!

It’s now six years since we started running a secret supperclub in Leeds and each October we like to cook an extra special menu to celebrate. This year we took inspiration from our current favourite chef – Selin Kiazim, of Oklava fame. Selin cooks super modern/fusion Turkish Cypriot food that scored her the winning dessert dish at this year’s Great British Menu. Oklava (named after the rolling pins used to roll out dough and pastry) is her flagship restaurant in Shoreditch and we were keen to bring the lovely flavours of this establishment to Leeds for the weekend.

The Oklava recipe book is lovely – full of flavour and colour that excites you into cooking. Some of the recipes might seem a bit daunting but if you follow Selin’s pragmatic step by step approach then it’s foolproof. Some of the ingredients may seem a bit alien, but if you’re Leeds based then we can’t speak more highly of Holbeck’s Venus Foods – which is an Aladdin’s cave of Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine. You may get a bit lost amongst the shelves but go with a clear list and you won’t be disappointed.

For our welcome cocktail we served up Oklava’s sweet and sour sumac and pomegranate martini. Vodka was infused with bitter sumac and then mixed up with rum, pomegranate tea, pomegranate juice and lime juice. The first canapé was a simple but effective lettuce cup filled with candied walnuts, a dressing made from lemon, honey and feta and a pinch of parmesan cheese. This was sweet and salty at its best. The walnuts are candied whole with their shells (a bit like a pickled walnut but sweet). It creates a musky, maple flavour that is heavenly.

The next canapes were some delightful golden fritters of courgette, mint and halloumi. Crisp, salty and creamy, they were finished of with a dash of chilli and minty yoghurt

The starters included a pretty salad of sour cherry, pearl barley, chilli butter, yoghurt and kale, topped with sheep’s cheese (in this case pecorino) This unique dish was crispy, creamy and chewy all at once, with sweet, salty and sour notes.

I couldn’t resists cooking up one of Oklava’s pides. When I visited the restaurant earlier this year it was the best thing I ate there, and is possibly the nicest thing I’ve eaten all year. Essentially it’s a folded pizza but with a lovely little peek at what’s inside. I filled mine with a filthy 5 cheese sauce – the cheeses being helim, Parmesan, mozzarella, feta and a Cypriot cheese called Tulum – it’s a stinky, hard cheese that comes in a jar. This was topped with toasted walnuts for crunch and chunks of charred pumpkin and leek that gave a beautiful sweetness against the salty cheeses. These were baked at the highest possible temperature to get the crust nice and crispy. WhatBefore being served they were doused with a  smoky harissa oil and more Tulum cheese. The harissa oil really helped lift the pides from their savoury depths!

The fish course was a beautiful piece of cod anointed with a pretty green crust of sweet pistachio and served with lashings of preserved lemon butter sauce, which was salty, slightly bitter and very naughty! It came atop a bed of buttered freekeh, which was a lovely savoury accompaniment to the sweet fish and creamy sauce. Freekeh is an Egyptian grain that gets dried over open fire, giving it the most incredible smoky flavour. This was cooked with lots of butter, green olives, barberries, chickpeas, pistachios, mint and parsley.

The meat course was a rich ragu of braised beef short ribs in çemen – a turkish spice paste of fenugreek, cumin and paprika. This was served on a rich, thick bread sauce with charred hispy cabbage. To finish this was drizzled with chilli butter and mint jelly to add some acidity. A brilliant spiced, hearty, autumnal dish.

For dessert we took on the challenge of recreating Selin’s famous and award winning dessert – muhallebi and jelly. Muhallebi is a milk pudding thickened with cornflour (or blancmange to you and me!). I flavoured mine with vanilla and pistachio extract. The jelly was flavoured with forest fruits, pomegranate, sumac and rosewater. These were prettily decorated with berries and slivers of pistachio. It was a very ‘soft’ dessert and so to create a bit of texture I threw in a brown butter and almond tuile, courtesy of Ottolenghi’s ‘Sweet’ book. These biscuits had a beautiful crunch that worked perfectly with the creamy, fruity dessert.

Finally our petit fours were semolina custard boreks. Similar to Baklava in method, these were filo pastries doused in sweet syrup, but filled with a set semolina custard. a sweet way to end the meal.

All in all it was a successful event. Usually by the end of a weekend of cooking I am sick of the book we have been using as our inspiration, but this not the case with Oklava, I cannot wait to cook from it again! Next up we have an afternoon tea using Ottolenghi’s ‘Sweet’ as our muse. Given there are no savoury recipes in the whole thing, guests can expect a very sugary affair indeed. I’ve been on a diet the last four months so I’m a bit worried about having to test these recipes!

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.

Autumn and winter events announcement

Ok, so I know Summer’s not over yet but we thought we’d be super organised agree some dates and themes for autumn and winter as we’ve had a number of emails and messages asking when they’ll be. This will be the last run of events before a short break, as I’ll be busy popping a baby out in early 2018 but we’ll be back in the Spring!

Anyway, back to the events! If you do want to book on, tickets will be on sale from Tuesday 8th August at 7pm.

October 27th & 28th – 6th Birthday, inspired by Oklava 
We’ve got a bit of a crush on the amazing Selin Kiazim who owns London restaurant Oklava. Some of you will know her from this year’s Great British Menu where she won the dessert round. Using her book Oklava as inspiration, we’ll be bringing Turkish Cypriot cuisine to our little part of West Leeds!

November 18th – Ottolenghi afternoon tea
We’ve held a number of Otttolenghi inspired events across the years and they’ve always been some of our most memorable, for good reason too! His laid back style is really an ethos we like to share at the Manor. This time, we’ll be using his upcoming book, Sweet to bake up a storm for our guests at afternoon tea!

December 8th & 9th – Rick Stein, Mexico
We’ll be bringing a touch of Mexico to our festive celebrations in December! Inspired by Rick Stein’s forthcoming TV series and book, we’ll be cooking up one of our favourite cuisines to our lovely guests.

January 13th 2018 – Olia Hercules, Kaukasis Lunch
Back in Jan 2016 we hosted our first Olia Hercules inspired event, using her wonderful book Mamushka to cook up some wonderful dishes from Eastern Europe. Next year we’ll be doing the very same, serving up a delectable lunch using her new book Kaukasis to take our guests on a journey from Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond!

So, if these events get your tastebuds flowing, then make sure you’re ready to snap them up on tomorrow!

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!

November ’16 Menu – A Middle Eastern Inspired Lunch

In less than a week’s time we’ll be opening up the doors of the Manor for our penultimate 2016 supperclub!

The them this month is Middle Eastern, using Sabrina Ghayour’s marvellous Sirocco for inspiration. We’re big fans of Sabrina, her dishes are simple, straightforward and so so tasty. We’re excited about the menu and excited to be greeting another bunch of lovely guests.

So here’s the menu! Let us know what you think!