Tag Archives: Underground Dining

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!

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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!

September 2017 menu – Scandinavian Comfort Food

At the weekend, we’ll be opening up the Manor for two nights, serving up a wealth of delicious Scandinavian inspired delights for our guests.

Using recipes from some of our favourite Scandi cooks there will be some traditional dishes alongside some more modern interpretations.

As you know, we’re huge Scandiphiles so we’re really looking forward to this one!

Sept 2017.jpg

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 on sale

As promised, here are the links you can use to book onto our next run of events

October 27th & 28th – Oklava £35pp (£70 per pair)

Join us for our birthday celebrations, Turkish/ Cypriot style!
Friday 27th Fully Booked
Saturday 28th Full Booked

November 18th – Ottolenghi afternoon tea £25pp (£50 per pair)
Get ready for a decadent afternoon tea with the usual Ottolenghi twists.
Fully Booked

December 8th & 9th – Rick Stein, Mexico £35pp (£70 per pair)
Celebrate the festive season with some South American spice
Friday 8th Fully Booked
Saturday 9th Fully Booked

January 13th 2018 – Olia Hercules, Kaukasis Lunch £35pp (£70 per pair)
See in the new year with some Eastern European delights
Fully Booked

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!

August 2017 Menu – Vegetarian Fine Dining

Next weekend we’ll be hosting two events and taking on vegetarian cuisine as our theme. We’ve taken inspiration from as far afield as Sri Lanka, Mexico, Turkey and back to Scotland to create an eclectic but what we hope is a memorable event!