Its been a while since we’ve held a supper club. For one reason or another I had to cancel those scheduled for October through to January (some due to low numbers but also due to weddings, festivals and pop-up events going on). I suppose in a way a change is as good as a rest. We needed a little break. It’s hard running a supper club in a family home and when at Christmas we transformed our living room back to normal the kids breathed a sigh of relief at having their ‘home back’.
It also gave us the opportunity to have a look at feedback from earlier guests. We’ve changed and experimented quite a bit since 2009, starting out with single tables, increasing our capacity to accommodate a dozen, moving to a more communal and interactive approach with one large table, increasing prices and taking on extra staff.
Comments such as …“the food is divine” are thankfully unanimous and overall we’ve had few criticisms. One thing people do say is that
“there is just too much food….I would prefer to pay less and have a smaller amount to eat”
or “I would come, but dates don’t coincide and the cost makes it prohibitive”
Clearly prices became an issue as well as unpredictable dates and the amount of food being served. So after our little break we relaunched; with a pared down menu of 3 courses plus coffee, a lower price of £25 a head, a smaller group of people and a regular last Saturday of the month slot. Clearly this has paid off. Our first supper of the year drew a full house, and we came back relaxed, calm and raring to go.
What better way to ward off the February blues than a sumptuous Indian supper. It was a particularly cold day beginning with a fine white covering of snow on the ground. I stoked up the wood burning stove and worried as flakes continued to flutter through the air throughout the day, mostly fine, but turning to swirling flurries as the day wore on and the time grew closer for our guests to arrive.
I heard my ten-year old shout from the lounge upstairs “are you looking for supper club cos it’s here” and six out of breath people (two worryingly clutching asthma inhalers and two in skyscraper heals) stumbled into the house. Usually on my emails I tell people to beware of the uphill walk to my house…this time I’d forgotten, I presumed everyone knew where I was by now, clearly not!
It turned out that one of the women whose ankles I almost wrecked was Welsh up and coming pop-singer Sarah Wynn who has supported the likes of Emma Bunton, Liberty X, Blazin Squad and Bill Wyman. The crowd also included street food vendors Providero who brought me a lovely present of some of their coffee (we had it for breakfast the next morning and it was truly delicious!).
Spring onion and coriander bhajis
Yogurt, mint and cucumber raitha, tamarind and mint chutney, sweet and sour tomato relish and onion, coriander and lime salad
Parsi lamb curry
White bean and curry leaf with coconut
Orange and cinnamon tart with a crisp cardamom base
Almond/pistachio ice cream
blackberry and rose coulis
Coffee / chai and cardamom chilli chocolate truffles
With seasonal local produce on the low side I did the best I could. U used parsley and mint from a friends polytunnel, onions from a local farm. Welsh butter (Calon Wen), yogurt (Rachel’s Dairy) and cream in my dessert and of course Welsh lamb for the curry.
I tinkered with a Anjum Anand recipe for Maharashtran rice as it went so well with the Parsi curry. I’m afraid I I’m sworn to secrecy over the Parsi curry recipe. The recipe came from Shazneen a band manager and festival organiser in India, she spent six months in the UK working with the Green Man festival team (which is how we became friends) and before heading back home came to stay in Wales for a week. The curry is a traditional dish made according to her mothers special recipe. She graciously cooked curry for us all then shared the recipe telling me there was NO WAY I was allowed to blog it. Don’t worry Shaz, your secret is safe with me!
crispy vegetable samosa
spring onion and herb bhajis with the mint and cucumber raitha
sweet and sour tomato relish, onion, coriander and lime, yogurt with mint and cucumber and tamarind and mint
Vegetarian option: Maharashtran rice, white bean and curry leaf with coconut and a red onion, coriander and lime salad
As for dessert, I’d intended to make a rhubarb and rose tart, with a cardamom pastry but clearly February is too early for even forced rhubarb in Wales so I made a last-minute change, which became a fab accidental recipe hit.
Pastry flecked with cardamom
Orange and cinnamon tart with a crisp cardamom base:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 degrees C
To make a 12-inch tart case you will need:-
250g organic plain flour, Shipton Mill is the best
50g icing sugar, sifted
125 g Calon Wen butter
zest of a small lemon
8 cardamom pods crushed and the seeds ground well in a pestle and mortar
1 large free-range egg, beaten
small drop of milk
Sieve the flour into a bowl and cut the cubes of butter into it. Sieve the icing sugar over the top then rub the butter into the flour and sugar until you end up with a fine, crumbly mixture. Add the lemon zest and cardamom seeds.Add the egg and a small splash of milk and gently work it all together until you have a ball of dough. Don’t over handle it, simply flour it lightly and wrap it in clingfilm. Put into the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.Roll out to fit into a loose bottomed tart tin. Cover with a piece of baking paper and fill the tart case with baking beans. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the case from the oven and take out the baking paper and beans before returning to the oven for another 10 minutes so the base can firm up; it needs to set properly, just beginning to turn light brown so that the filling does not soak in.
For the custard filling:
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 pint single cream
4oz caster sugar
rind and juice of 1 orange
quarter of a teaspoon cinnamonPut the single cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan to heat over a lowish gas. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, cornflour and caster sugar. Add the orange rind and juice and cinnamon. as the cream comes up to the boil remove from the heat and pour over the egg mixture whisking continuously. Return the mixture to a clean pan and heat gently stirring all the time until it begins to thicken slightly.
Rest the tart tin on a baking tray (just in case it leaks) and pour the mixture into the case. Return to the oven where it needs to bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is puffy and slightly risen in the centre and beginning to turn a lovely golden brown.
Serve with fresh fruit, a coulis and some ice cream
Roaring fire in the inglenook, table set for dinner…that’s our supper club 🙂