Monthly Archives: November 2009

A late Autumnal supper and a weekend of domestic goddessing

Unusual as it is for me to compare myself to a domestic goddess (usually I am more slummy mummy than yummy mummy), but this weekend I think I surpassed myself in the domesticity states….but not without the usual minor dramas that keep me on the edge.

 Not really a drama, in fact it was quite exciting, on Saturday morning we woke to find a fine coating of snow covering the hill; late Autumn supper had suddenly turned overnight to a full on winter supper. I guess it made a change from non-stop wind, rain and floods. I wondered for a second if I should be cooking something heartier for dinner than sorbet and salads, but I guessed the warm spiced wine and the roaring log fire would warm everyone up sufficiently. I was actually more concerned about bringing in the diners and had toyed with the idea of cancelling, but that was not something I really wanted to do.

hens in the remaining bit of snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dramas began when the other half rang to say he had a flat tyre. He’d only just gone to collect the veg having dragged himself out of bed at about 10. Not exactly on the same level of stress as me yet!

 He reported that John was currently looking for a foot pump. When asked where his foot pump was he informed me it was at home

 “Not much f**king good here is it?” I tactfully responded

 He took the hint and said he wouldn’t be calling me back unless he was desperate and he couldn’t get it pumped up.

 He hadn’t even been to collect the rest of the meat, the olives and the blue cheese yet!!! He’d pushed my little panic button, but this time thankfully all was well. The tyre stayed pumped up and he returned in record time with everything I needed without me having to berate him with hundreds of phone calls.

 I also started a waitress down. The usually lovely Rosie was pale-faced, snotty and snuffly and walked around droopily with her face buried in a hanky for much of the morning.  I initially banned her from interacting with the general public and serving them food, but as the day progressed and she became snottier by the minute I also decided she was far to lurgy ridden to go near food preparation too. She looked dejected “what am I supposed to do then?” she asked….I decided she could be the dedicated photographer for the night, a job which I barely ever manage to do as I’m far too busy.

Hobz and the other half

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ro and Hobz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was also able to enlist the help of the equally glam Hobz, she is 2 years older than Ro but they have been friends a long time, they are climbing buddies and Hobz is like the big sister Ro never had. She seems to spend her life waitressing and food preparing at every given location in the Bangor area!! The little un was nowhere to be seen all night, happily ensconced in front of the Wii, he only ventured down the stairs for food, which once served he claimed he hated.

“I don’t like that, we have it at school, it’s horrible” he said. Wish I’d gone to the same school as him we all cried!!!

Table settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The menu for the evening, designed and made by Rosie our waitress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly we again didn’t have a full house but due to a last-minute booking and a couple of people who said they would come but refused to confirm, we set for eight. I’m pretty convinced that it’s down to money and the weather, but it doesn’t stop the hint of disappointment. To be honest I’d rather have a full house and less in the way of donations because it’s not just about the food, but meeting and entertaining new people, good conversation etc.  I’m also not going to bang on about those that say they will attend, but then don’t, obviously we still bought the food, but in the end it was us, the staff that enjoyed a damn good dinner between serving courses!!

 After chasing up bookings we eventually seated six people. One couple had been before but had returned this time with friends. It is such a lovely compliment to have diners returning again and again and to be able to serve them great food that they really appreciate. So may it continue!! One other couple attended but after the first two courses mysteriously disappeared into the night (nothing to do with us or the food I was assured). Well, we are a discrete bunch so will not enter into speculation on the reasons why, but I am very grateful to them for leaving a donation and I only hope that they return again in the future.

 With the extra help from Hobz we were motoring, tables set and prepared in record time (I know it was only for 8 but it still takes preparation). Also miraculously all the work surfaces stayed clear, the washing up disappeared promptly and the food was all ready without us even breaking into a sweat. With an extra pair of hands we were well and truly sorted. I tend to think that the ‘staff’ were a little underemployed at times on the night. I think this was apparent when one of our dinner guests ended up opening the door to our other guests because the ‘staff’ were so busy taking photos of each other in the kitchen, that they didn’t hear the knock on the door!!! The sackings may begin next month.

Sun dried tomato (front) and olive Foccacia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We started with spiced wine, home-made olive and sun-dried tomato Foccacia, with Organic Balsamic vinegar and Olive oil for dipping. This was followed by Butterbean, leek and parmesan soup (a Jamie Oliver recipe which I’d amended. It originally had chick peas in it but I thought butter beans worked better. Sorry Jamie but I think my dinner guests agreed).

big pot of butterbean, leek soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made triple the recipe given here (which is for 4). Remove the green ends of two medium leeks, cut in half and then slice finely. Put them into a colander and give them a good wash. Then sweat in a large covered saucepan with about a tablespoon of butter, two crushed cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh thyme leaves (stalks removed). When softened but not coloured chuck in 1 can of butter beans (or dried butter beans that have been soaked overnight and then boiled for 20 minutes, which is what I did) and 2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed. Pour over 565ml of chicken or vegetable stock (I made my own vege stock) and simmer for about half an hour or so until the potatoes are well-cooked. If the soup ends up too thick add a drop more boiling water. Season well and serve with a glug of good olive oil, an extra sprinkle of Thyme and plenty of shaved parmesan. I don’t reckon it needed anything else and although I offered a bit more Foccacia it was hearty enough on its own.

plating the soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leek, butterbean and parmesan soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next came the chicken wrapped in Pancetta, roasted with potato slices, cherry tomatoes and olives, served on a lemon dressed bitter leaf salad. The chicken was from Williams the butchers and was fantastic, juicy and succulent. The Pancetta was a bit of a revelation because I set Paul the task of finding me some that was locally produced (I didn’t think he would find any to be honest, but he definitely came up trumps). Yep he said there is someone in Wrexham that does it. Okay it’s not within 30 miles, but Wrexham is a lot closer than Italy (or London, or wherever the supermarkets get theirs). This is actually another Jamie Oliver recipe, its pretty simple to do and the secret is in the ingredients (good quality, fresh makes it i think).

 The chicken breasts were cut underneath the small fillet and filled with about a dessertspoonful of basil butter (just butter creamed with chopped fresh basil and a pinch of salt); they were then wrapped tightly with about six thin slices of pancetta. I used about 2lb pancetta for 10 breasts. I then peeled sliced and par boiled (for a minute or two) 2lb potatoes. They were then drained and tossed in a little olive oil, salt and pepper then spread out on the base of two roasting tins. I then stuck them in the oven (gas 7, 220 C. 425F) for around 10 minutes. While they were cooking I marinated three big handfuls of cherry tomatoes and the same of pitted black olives in more olive oil, salt and pepper. I then chucked them on top of the potatoes and placed the chicken on top of that. Returned to the oven they should then take about 20 minutes to cook. I think mine took longer than that, first because my oven is shit and second because it couldn’t cope with that much chicken to cook. No problem though it cooked beautifully in the end. The chicken was served on a bed of bitter leaf salad (amazing that Pippa and Jon still had some going) which had been tossed in a little olive oil and lemon juice.

cherry tomatoes and olives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chucking the tomatoes in with the potato slices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chicken wrapped in pancetta, placed on top of the toms and potato slices and ready to roast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

plated chicken on bitter leaf salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now as you will have gathered from my previous posting, I was well impressed with my tarte tatin last week. So I decided to stop playing it safe and within the spirit of experimentation chose to be adventurous this week and make something I’d never made before for the first time on the night (I had intended to try it out prior to supper club but ran out of time). A stupid thing to do you may think, but it sounded nice and thought I would go for it. I was a little nervous I have to say and it could have gone either way. Nigella’s chocolate mousse cake sounded seriously decadent but her assertion that you had to ease off the foil slowly and carefully to avoid the cake sticking to it was enough to make me uneasy. Anyway, the cake was made, baked and left to cool completely (usually I’m too impatient and try to rip off foil or baking paper too soon, not this time). As I nervously came to remove the foil I tugged at a small corner with trepidation. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it came away without any cake, as did the rest of the foil. The cake was in my opinion, perfect (ha! I would say that of course). It was dark and sticky and oozy in the middle and lightly cooked and springy on the outside. With a damp knife it sliced easy and perfectly. I then served it with a dessert spoon of sharp crème fraiche and a small scoop of bitter orange sorbet (which I’d made at some time after midnight on Friday after finishing work at Hendre). It was an amazing combination and one which elicited lots of oohs and aaahhhhs (and that was just the staff!!). At one point I asked them to stop orgasming over dessert in the kitchen. They told me I was disgusting.

chocolate mousse cake, still in the foil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

preparing dessert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate mousse cake with bitter orange sorbet and creme fraiche...Nigella would have been proud!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The night finished with coffee and cheese and as I sat down to chat in the dining room, god knows what they were up to in the kitchen (although I was offered photographic evidence of silliness, which involves the other half  acting the clown for the girls…I may use it as blackmail material first though……no sod it, you can have it now)

less said the better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other half and I were also very grateful for the glasses of wine offered by our guests. Very much appreciated.

Now we are looking forward to two Christmas supper clubs on the 11th and 12th December, both of which will be far more manic than the last two November dates. With hindsight I have enjoyed the calm, before what will be the storm. With fewer guests we have been able to take it easy and chat, most of the clearing was done before Sunday and we were able to return to normality much quicker.

But of course instead of kicking back and putting my feet up on Sunday, I felt the domestic goddess urge fall upon me. Christmas puddings, marmalade, sewing and ironing awaited me. Since Rosie had retreated to her bed for the day and Hobz was doing a 10 hour shift in the local bakery I enlisted the help of the smallest person in the house. In fact this little man made the Christmas puddings all on his own!! I on the other hand embarked on marmalade making. These will make fantastic Christmas presents along with sloe gin, home-made truffles and chutney. Perfect if you want to give something non commercial or if you are a bit skint like me!!

Providing some respite from coffee bean grinding, the little un takes over the kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aidan's Christmas puds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a good thing that the other half had (at my request) bought far too many organic un-waxed oranges at great expense. I didn’t need them all for the sorbet and they don’t keep well but were perfect for marmalade making. I had to add my twist though and chucked in a bit of brandy when boiling and then another glug once the set was reached.

 So as the temperature dips (3 degrees it was this morning) and I finalize the menu for Christmas we shall all cosy up for a week…well that’s until next Saturday when I will be making and donating soup to the Bangor Free shop…but that’s another story

Denise x

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A late Autumn supper

Great, if a little bizarre evening…. full update will be added later today…after the school run!! Pictures added to facebook, but come back for the full review

D xx

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Is thinking ahead….

There will be lots of new and exciting things happening at the supper club in the new year…we will be starting student nights, ad hoc cookery courses, hosting a vege Thali night and a Burns night supper….until then we have some spaces left for pre Christmas dinner on 12th December and there are still spaces on Saturday, damn this horrendous weather xx

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Menu for saturday’s supper club

Warm spiced wine, home made Foccacia with sundried tomatos and olives

A hearty Autumn butter bean, leek and parmesan soup

Organic chicken stuffed with basil butter and wrapped in locally produced pancetta, then roasted with potatos, cherry tomatos and olives

Bitter leaf salad with a lemon dressing

Chocolate mousse cake with blood orange sorbet and creme fraiche

tea, coffee and cheese

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Les cieux et terre du dîner secret français

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Happy diners tucking into Boeuf Bourguinion

Well that’s another successful night at the secret supper club over, a success that was all the greater considering all the events that sought to hinder us over the previous week.

To be honest the weekend hadn’t started well and we weren’t experiencing the same high spirits as we had at our previous supper club evenings. There were several reasons for this. To begin with I hadn’t being feeling great all week. I was tired, run down, busy and a wee bit stressed out, not at all my usual energetic bouncy self. This was amply demonstrated when I fell asleep at 8.30 on Friday night (and did not wake again until 6am Saturday morning). The other half had tried to rouse me as I’d requested ( I only meant to have a quick power sleep) but he said I’d mumbled almost incoherently that he should leave me alone (yes, I was even polite in my sleep). Frankly, the way I was feeling I would be lucky to stay awake for the supper club.

In addition to this the weather took a turn for the worse. The bright warm and sunny Welsh autumn had almost overnight turned to winter with thunderous black skies, piercingly cold wind and lashing sideways rain that soaked you the minute you stepped outside the front door. It was enough to make me want to go into hibernation for next 4 months.

 Cancellations, jaded assistants and my lethargy turned Saturday morning into a shambles. The other half did a round trip of 120 miles before 12 O’clock, picking up the things that I’d forgotten on the Friday (so much for reducing food miles!!). He returned exhausted, in pain with a bad back and in a less than joyful mood. He also returned with a similarly exhausted teen that had just completed 2 netball matches at school that morning. She simply wanted to collapse in a heap and be surly for the rest of the day while watching shit music TV. She certainly didn’t want to work for the evening.

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debris from the collapsed shelf incident

Prior to their arrival back home, the cat had thrown up on the carpet, the shelf in the utility room had collapsed hurtling a basket of about 20 pickling jars across the kitchen, where they had all simultaneously smashed with a crescendo of shattering glass….the cats decided to investigate….

….so while I tried to prevent the cats from getting glass in their feet, I thought about giving it all up and cancelling. But of course I’m very glad I didn’t…. Ces choses sont envoyées pour nous juger (best French I can muster)

Once the troops returned, we’d all calmed down and relaxed and consumed a lovely lunch of cheeses, bread, salad and tomato and pesto tart, followed by more tea and Paracetamol all round, we all perked up a little; enough to get back to work at least.

 The other half cleaned the minging house, hoovered, set out the tables and tried to rally the droopy teen that floated about looking traumatized by even the slightest mention of work. This latter job was only partially accomplished.

 Miraculously, by 5pm we were reasonably on top of it all. Tables set, kids scrubbed, cats hoovered, fire set, the only drama to unfold was that the teens hair wouldn’t straighten properly! By the time the first guests arrived at 7.15 we were all suitably composed (although the waitress was still running around in her knickers at 7.10).

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Tables being set out

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preparing canapes

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plates of canapes Tapenade on mini toasted croutons and home-made olive Foccacia (not very French, but yummy)

Once the Blackcurrant Pompiers started flowing and the Tapenade canapés arrived, all was right with the world. By 7.40 all of our guests had arrived and I was straight into cooking the mussels, which had been scrubbed and kept in icy water by the other half (who never wants to see another mussel as long as he lives. He’d spent half the morning waiting for them to be packaged and the afternoon cleaning them).

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Conwy mussels 'moules mariniere'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After this everything proceeded like clockwork. Whether it was autopilot (obviously we’d learnt a lot from our first couple of evenings) or the fact that we were entertaining a smaller number of diners, it was a lovely relaxed evening.

The Boeuf Bourguinion was cooked to perfection, made with Welsh Black Beef from Willams the butcher’s in Bangor and served with carrots and baby potatos. We even had enough time to feed ourselves (the wee one demanding exactly eight mussels followed by the beef and then Tarte Tatin, while the teen filled up on Tapenade, bread and Chantilly cream…maybe we can actually get her to eat some proper food next time). However, as you can see I was still rubbish at remembering to take pictures.

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Boeuf Bourguinion and buttered carrots ready to serve

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plating the beef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My crowning glory (even if I say so myself) was the Tarte Tatin. I have made it plenty of times before, usually with shop bought puff pastry. But this time I followed the advice of Nigella and made it with home-made, Danish pastry made earlier that morning with the help of the little un. I left it to rest in the fridge for the day while I had my minor nervous breakdown and returned to it later when more composed (and when I needed to make the tarte).

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Tarte Tatin

I made the tarte in a large pan borrowed from my mate (thanks Molly…I couldn’t afford the £22 for a large tarte tatin tin). It was a nervous moment turning out the tatin, I wasn’t sure if it would work properly, my heart was in my mouth as I flipped the pan over. I removed it to reveal the most perfect tatin I had ever made, tender golden, caramel apples, sitting in perfect unbroken mounds. My smile spread from ear to ear (simple pleasures!!). Served with a good dollop of whipped cream, lightly sweetened (with a couple of dessert spoons of icing sugar) and flavoured with some good quality vanilla it was so well received, our twelve-year-old diner asked for seconds!

 I think everyone was full to the brim by the time cheese and biscuits and coffee was served, but a few bravely gave the fantastic goats cheese Camembert and smoked Brie a try. The Camembert was mild enough to win over even those who don’t usually like goat’s cheese and the mildness of the Brie meant that the smoking process was not too overpowering. Unfortunately the home-made oat cakes were a little too dry and crumbly, but the two seed crackers were a success like last time.

All in all we had a very good night. The smaller numbers gave us more opportunity to socialise and have a chat with our diners. Fat Steve as usual got lots of attention, particularly from our 12-year-old diner, who I think would have smuggled him home with her given the chance. The little un disappeared upstairs to watch TV, bored with the occasion because he wasn’t allowed to ‘waitress’ the tables while the teen slowly flaked out once the coffee was served.

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"Mum, im sick of grinding coffee beans for a living...when can i waitress the tables?"

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Rosie B...tired but impeccably glamorous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finished the night tired, happy and satisfied that our diners had been well fed and hopefully entertained (although note to self: keep the other half away from the stereo…sorry anyone who’s not keen on Leftfield)

Looking forward to the 28th (extra added date…and bookings arriving already)

Denise xx

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Table for two still available for tonight

email me at moelfabansecretsupperclub@live.co.uk

first to respond gets the table…address and location will be sent when you book

Shame to waste a good evenings dining!!

Denise xx

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New website for locals (and further afield)

Anyone who is local, likes food, would like to share recipes, restaurant reviews, ideas, etc etc sign up to www.faithfulfoodies.com/index.php/articles-and-guides

you can also read my brief article on underground restaurants and what inspired me to do it

Denise x

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back by popular demand

I’m thinking that I might add an extra supper club on the 28th November due to such high demand!! Let me know if you are interested…it will probably be a vaguely Italian, Jamie Oliver inspired (well some of his recipes anyway) late autumn supper….menu will include lots of seasonal produce, home made Foccacia, chicken, locally produced Pancetta and lots of chocolate for dessert

Denise xx

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Menu for November’s supper club

I have finally decided on the menu for the next supper club which will be on the 14th. I’m only hosting one evening this month as I also have a private party on the 21st and another possible one on the 28th. In between I have the small ones birthday and two cancan appearances

Blackcurrant Pompier and Mini Tapenade toasts

Conwy mussels ‘Moules Mariniere’ with home made bread

Boeuf Bourguignon with potatos and carrots with dill

Tarte Tatin and Creme Chantilly

Coffeee and a Selection of French cheeses and home made crackers

Hope this tickles your fancy 🙂

Denise x

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Halloween feasts and spooky cookies

Pumpkin soup, Fresh Ciabatta, mini baked potatoes with sea salt and a dollop of Mascarpone on top…finished off with Halloween cookies, some trick or treating and then off to the Halloween ball….perfect!

Despite being skint we couldn’t resist an impromptu Halloween feast. The house was full of teenagers already and I felt as though i’d become the street pumpkin recycling zone, with every other neighbour arriving on my doorstep with bowls of pumpkin flesh

“could you do something with this?” they asked….and never one to throw food away I obliged with several cauldrons of soup. In fact enough soup to feed at least 30!!!!

So armed with a Cauldron of soup, some roasted pumpkin seeds and a ton of baked potatoes topped with creamy mascarpone I invited all and sundry for impromptu supper.

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Rolling out the dough

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Getting the kids into the spirit of things I set them up making Halloween cookies, the recipe is dead easy and the cookies are delicious.

Halloween cookies:

75g (3oz) icing sugar

150g (50z) butter.

Once soft and light they added the grated rind of one lemon and a tablespoon of the lemon juice.

225g (8oz) plain flour

Cream the butter and sugar until soft and light. Add the grated rind of one small lemon and a tablespoon of juice. Then mix in the flour and work the mixture into a ball of dough. On a floured table roll the mixture out until it is about quarter of an inch (5mm) thick then cut out shapes using Halloween cutters. Bake the cookies on gas mark 4 (180 degrees C, 350 F) for about 15 mins. Once cool you can decorate the cookies with coloured glace icing (just icing sugar mixed with a couple of teaspoons of hot water) or melted Green and Blacks milk chocolate.

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A Halloween feast

The first sitting consisted of 4 teenagers, one little un and three adults. Once the kids disappeared on their trick or treating the remaining adults sat down to wine and yet more soup.

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A visiting hag

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getting ready to go trick or treating

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