Summer dinners…finally the sun shone, the wine flowed and we all made merry

Slightly daunted by a double supper club weekend I thought I’d be well prepared and get going nice and early! Well…as they say, “see what thought did”?….There I was up to my elbows in summer fruit puree, the kitchen looking like it had seen a massacre, whence came a knock at the door. Still I remained transfixed by the task of fitting cut bread shapes soaked in fruit juice into pudding basins…that is until a group of my lovely girlfriends came shrieking into the kitchen clutching bottles of bubbly and wine. We looked at each other as a moment of silence descended, a fleeting moment of horror as Debs said…’you’ve forgotten’!!. She looked at the others ‘I knew she’d forget. She’s got supper club this weekend’..She looked awkward, not knowing where to sneak back out quietly. ‘Shall we go?’ she said. ‘NO’!! I almost shouted…’don’t go. Get that wine open, I won’t be a sec with these puddings. I need a social life that doesn’t just involve cooking and entertaining others…I need a drink!!’…..and so we drunk…and we drunk and more came and drunk too. It was a good night and a good send off for Debs who is moving off with her new beau to Pembrokeshire!! However, Saturday morning told another story. Facing supper club prep with a roaring hangover wasn’t the best way to begin the day, coupled with the fact that I had to go in to work for nine for a meeting almost finished me off.

So after fried tomatoes on toast, a pint of water, a strong coffee and two paracetamol I was raring to go (almost). The rest was against all odds, fairly relaxed. Surprisingly so. Summer Puddings made (for both Saturday and Sunday) using black currants, blackberries (collected during the week with the kids), strawberries and loganberries and amazing vanilla bean ice cream supplied by Mon ar Lwy on Anglesey safely tucked away in the freezer. The cheeses were collected from the Anglsey farmers market the previous weekend and included a smoked black bomber and smoked camembert from Derimon a Camembert with Samphire from Caws Rhyd y Delyn and Goats cheese from Y Cwt Caws.

Once i’d returned from work I got on preparing the tomatoes for long slow roasting. I used several varieties (they have grown 15 different types at Moelyci this season) of yellow plum and vine tomatoes. They were de-seaded and coated in finely chopped basil, garlic and sea salt. Placed in a single layer in a roasting tin cut side up, which was a quarter filled with good olive oil. They were then roasted on gas marl 1 for about 4 hours. What emerged was akin to the kind of semi-dried tomatoes you get in oil in jars, but much tastier. These were served with a mixed leaf salad, with honey roasted baby beets and goats cheese pearls.

The next job was to get to grips with Nessie mark two….caught by the same person as the salmon for our previous dinner, but this time twice the size!! A ten pound wild river salmon, line caught and too big to fit in the fridge!! It arrived on the Saturday night, a week before our two dinners. It had to be gutted, scaled and filleted there and then and then packed ready for the freezer…trust me, no easy job!! Anyway the task was manfully completed by poor old Sean, who like me is beginning to wonder if life consists of anything more than late night fish filleting, veg chopping, chutney making and washing up!!

The salmon was brought out of the freezer for defrosting on Thursday and by Saturday was ready to become fish Wellington. Having skinned and removed as many bones as possible with a small pair of pliers it was wrapped in good quality all butter puff pastry (I cheated and didn’t even attempt to make my own) on a creamy mousse made from smoked salmon (from Derimon again), chopped tarragon, lime zest and cream cheese). This was served with Highland Burgundy red potatoes, thinly sliced on my mandolin, tossed in rapeseed oil, salt and pepper and roasted until just starting to crisp and a stir fried hot salad of mixed beans, red onion, mustard seeds, chilli, lemon zest, chives and rhubarb chard (very Ottolenghi!! My new purchase is inspiring many experiments).

To finish we had the summer pudding with vanilla pod ice-cream followed by cheese, chutney and coffee.

On the Saturday night we entertained eight, seated round one big table. I was a little nervous because I hadn’t been seating guests like this, but the conversation flowed and everyone appeared to enjoy the set-up…definately doing it that way in future. The main course was plated and the fish Wellington were prepared individually…

Nessie mark two...being skinned and filleted

a very beautiful fish

Fresh produce from Moelyci


The veg was about as local as it could be…most from Moelyci being a mile and a half from my house and the potatoes from Village veg in Waunfawr. Most was harvested the day it was due to be eaten, or the day before.

beautiful colours of the different varieties of tomato, coated in basil, garlic and sea salt

the amazing Highland Burgundy red in and out

the calm before the storm


one plated main course...salmon wellington, with beans and potatoes

summer pudding

happy diners!

Day two began with a mountain of laundry…thankfully the sun shone and we were able to dry some on the washing line and the rest draped over the banisters. We were quite blase by now; having cooked everything once over I now had the timings sorted (every dish, except the summer pudding which I’ve made a hundred times, was a new creation) so apart from the laundry we had a fairly relaxed morning.  The procedure was the same as the day before, tomatoes in to roast, prepare the salmon, prepare the veg…I was surprised at the simplicity of it all!!….Does it all sound too good to be true? Well it is….it was all going so well until I got carried away with Nessie. I’d decided to do a whole salmon for the private party on Sunday…well one thing led to another and Nessie became a comedy fish, that would then not fit on any baking trays…or into my pathetically small oven. Nessies tail trailed over the side and began to look worryingly limp…we then wedged the baking tray on a slant to save the tail but discovered when cooking was finished that Nessie had slid down and her nose was stuck to the side of the oven. After what amounted to a surgical procedure Nessie came out (virtually) unscathed.

Our party, a group celebrating the Ruby wedding anniversary of their parents, were blissfully unaware of the fishy drama in the kitchen as they happily supped champagne cocktails and tucked into their starters (which this time included courgette flowers fritters in a light tempura batter)

Nessie the comedy fish: too big for the tray

more tomatos...they are just too pretty not to photograph

a selection of red foods...for the Ruby wedding anniversary theme

tables set...just need the guests...oh yes they are drinking G&T's on the decking, two doors down...I can see then from my front window

plated starters all ready to go

Mum and Dad Oliver this end, celebrating their Ruby wedding anniversary

summer pudding part two

opening the Champagne

the end of the night

A good night was had by all and we could barely believe it when we looked at the clock and it said 12.20!! I consumed more than my usual quota of wine and champagne and rolled into bed sometime after one thirty ready for a good sleep….so what did we do on bank holiday Monday to recover?…….

Bliss......swimming, kayaking and a bit of fishing...

Leave a comment

Filed under Foraging for fruit, home cooking, local produce, secret supper, Sources and suppliers, underground restaurant, welsh cheese

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s