Category Archives: living room restaurant

MSN food: twice in one month!

I’m really not very good at taking compliments. I have this irritating tendency to get flustered when people greet me with praise. I look for the nearest thing to hide behind, embarrassed, not quite knowing what to do with myself and turning a lovely shade of scarlet (not the most becoming colour). Despite this I am unbelievably proud of my supper club and how well its done. Despite my squirming-at-praise tendencies, like most people I like being recognised for my hard work and achievements (as long as its not too public!!). This is probably why I prefer being safely hidden behind the camera and not standing in front of it. It’s a case of thank you for recognising my work and talents, but please don’t make a big deal of it (as well as being horribly unphotogenic and terribly vain!)

I’m quite at home with my strange, psychological insecurities (in which I’m sure I’m not alone). I always doubt myself, find fault, waiting to fuck up. My second chef Mark summed it up when he announced to his students (that I was mentoring and giving a talk to) that I was a highly strung perfectionist. I wasn’t sure whether to take issue with the highly strung bit, but I guess he is correct in some ways, but then aren’t all chefs?

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This month I have received not one, but two nice little accolades from MSN. The first  was a MSN food review of Britain’s Best Home pop-ups.  I am now not only listed among the pioneers of the supper club scene (I started in 2009) but one of the stalwarts since I’m one of few that are still running since the early days. My formula has changed little; I have a laid back and intimate style with sometimes quite simple grub, while at other times it can be wildly experimental. With the former style in mind, it was with pleasure that I contributed to MSN again, this time as an ‘expert’ in my new role as a freelance tutor at Bodnant Cookery School. Contributing simple ideas for cooking, guidance on what to choose and recipes for Welsh lamb. Check out the article here.

Roast lamb (© Sainsbury's)

Image from Sainsbury’s courtesy of MSN

And now i’m off to cook for tonight’s Earth Hour Supper Club…see you on the other side!

 

 

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Filed under British food, in the press, living room restaurant, local produce, Organic meat, Recipes, reviews, secret supper, Sources and suppliers, Welsh food, Welsh produce

An Indian supper and recipe for Cardamom, orange and cinnamon custard tart

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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!).

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My menu

Spring onion and coriander bhajis

Vegetarian samosas

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

Maharashtran rice

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!

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crispy vegetable samosa

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spring onion and herb bhajis with the mint and cucumber raitha

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sweet and sour tomato relish, onion, coriander and lime, yogurt with mint and cucumber and tamarind and mint

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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.

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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

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Roaring fire in the inglenook, table set for dinner…that’s our supper club 🙂

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Menu for Saturday 10th November Vegetarian Italian supper club

The day will begin with our monthly pop-up cafe at Ogwen Produce Market, Bethesda. This month we take up residence in the Jerusalem chapel so will have a warm and dry cafe space with tables, plus lots of produce and crafts to buy for Christmas. we will serve our usual breakfasts…local bacon or sausage baps, BLT’s and hot seasonal soups…come and pay us a visit and support your local producers!

We also still have spaces for our vegetarian Italian dinner next weekend (Saturday 10th November)….the menu is as follows…

Tomato & basil and tapenade bruschetta & Rossini cocktails

Pumpkin and crispy sage risotto

Chargrilled vegetables with caper and anchovies (for pescatarians)
Baked spinach with cream
Caponata
Mixed winter leaves

With CiabattaZabaglione ice cream & biscotti

To finish…coffee and chocolate salami

If you would like to join us at the table please drop me an email moelfabansuppers@gmail.com or give me a call on 07775 828769

** If bookings remain on the low side the evening will not take place, so please let me know by Thursday if you wish to attend! Thank you xx

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I’m back! Plus some new dates

I feel as if I’ve been away forever. After a brief holiday (a lovely family trip around Ireland) I spent one day at home before heading off to Global Feast in London.

I spent the week planning, preparing and cooking at what was a hugely rewarding event. I loved it. Met lots of amazing people including other supper club hosts from around the country and generally enjoyed a bit of city life and the buzz around the Olympics.

After this whirlwind I returned home for two days before disappearing once again, this time to Crickhowell and The Green Man festival. This was the most intensive period of cooking of the summer. Up at six thirty every day and not finishing until nine at night. I, plus one helper, prepared, cooked and served four meals a day to the hungry crew and production team for a grand total of fifteen and a half days. In between I got to enjoy the festival plus a few extra days camping before it began.

Now I’m back! Its taking a while to recover so sadly I am cancelling Saturday’s planned supper club. We will restart a bit later in the month. With hindsight I think I was a little over ambitious believing I would have it in me to plan and shop so soon after my return, but I am looking forward to the Autumn and all the exciting jobs and supper clubs I have coming up. I’m already booked to run a couple of school based mentoring sessions and two private dinners, but there is plenty of room for open events. Planned dates so far are….

Sunday 16th September – Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens: Harvest at Moelyci: Preserving the Harvest

I will be running two sessions (morning and afternoon) on jam and chutney making. This will include my own personal tips on how to get the best from the fruit and vegetables we collect, plus practical sessions where I will teach you how to make two of my best-selling preserves. There will be recipes and sheets for you to take home.

These sessions will be fun and interactive and are free but registration is essential. Please register here

Our first two supper clubs will be on….

Friday 28th September – Supper Club – Open to all

Saturday 29th September – Supper Club – Singles night

Possibly we will stick with the Indian Summer theme….a fusion of spices, dishes, incorporating Indian flavours with a Western twist…but this has yet to be confirmed.

Look forward to seeing you soon xx

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Filed under British food, cookery courses, Food festival, Foraging for fruit, home cooking, Indian cooking, living room restaurant, local produce, preserving, Uncategorized, underground restaurant

Global Feast 2012

When Kerstin Rogers (aka msmarmitelover) emailed me last week to ask how my supper club was doing, were we still up and running? I thought it was just a polite inquiry. The next minute she was asking me if I would be a guest chef at Global Feast 2012’s British food night!

Excited is an understatement. When I took a look at the other contributors ( list at the bottom of those confirmed) many of whom I have followed and admired from the depths of the Welsh mountains, you will get an understanding of just how excited I am and how amazing it will be. I’m brimming with more than a little nervous anticipation of what promises to be a busy, but superb twenty days.

Global Feast 2012 coincides with the Olympics and is the brainchild of Latitudinal Cuisine (started by Alex Haw, whose team at atmos also designed the central table…more on that in a sec!), a collective culinary project bringing people together to create and enjoy great global food and local conversation and curated by Kerstin Rodgers (msmarmite lover from The Underground Restaurant).
Between Wednesday 25th July and Monday 13th August guests will be invited to take a journey into the world of food. They will  travel through the cultures and cuisines of the entire world, tasting a different specialty each night lovingly prepared and cooked by the best local supper club cooks and chefs from the UK. The diverse culture of London and the UK will be there for all to see as will the quality and variety of the British and local produce used to create the dishes.
Lets get it right; this is not a night for the corporate, the glitterati or the feted….this is a night for those with a taste for the underground; those who like something a bit more creative, different, real.  With that in mind you can guarantee this talented group of Londoners (as well as a few of us that do not have a Londoncentric life), proper food lovers, artists and entertainers will be loving the opportunity to create a unique and unforgettable experience. If this isn’t enough in itself, guests will sit at Worldscape – part architectural masterpiece, part art installation-which is apparently the tallest table in the world, made from its contours and designed by atmos.
picture courtsey of atmosstudio

Dinners will take place in the covered courtyard of the Old Town Hall in Stratford (pretty much next door to the Olympic venue) and the schedule is as follows…

18:00 Bar opens
18:30 Welcome cocktail and canapés
19:30 Starter
20:00 Entertainment begins
20:30 Main Course
21:30 Dessert
02:00 Bar closes (4am on Friday/Saturday)

 

I will be cooking Welsh inspired dishes on British food night (Friday 27th July) and will be bringing in as many of my favourite suppliers (and products) as possible…there are so many to choose from!…

These are some of our glorious Welsh producers…but the list is endless….Welsh lamb from my mountain, Welsh black beef …so many growers within a mile of my home…Halen Mon salt are on my doorstep….Welsh cheese (how many varieties?)…we also have the best goats cheese dairy ever!….a smokery (fantastic smoked Brie and paprika)…amazing Welsh grown shiitake mushrooms…so many food orgasms without having to travel more than 20 miles!! Of course these are very Northcentric… but there are many fantastic South Wales producers too….Calon Wen cream and butter, Rachel’s Organics, Perl Wen and Perl Las cheese, Trealy Farm, Caws Cenarth….I could go on forever!! Not all will focus in my dishes, but I’m damn sure I will wedge in as many as I can!

If you wish to come along to any of the evenings (see the website for a full list of events and more information about the project) you can buy the Global Feast tickets by clicking on the link below.

http://www.globalfeast2012.com/#Book/

Those who already make up the all-star parade of guest chefs from the very best supper clubs are as follows….

Arno Maasdorp of the  SaltounSupper club (representing South Africa)

Aoife Behan of My Home supper club and Jelly and Gin (representing Scotland and Ireland)

Moel Faban supper club (representing Wales)

Plus Six Five supper club (representing Singapore)

Sabrina Ghayour supper club (representing Persia)

Uyen Luu of Leluu supper club (representing Vietnam)

Lee Sylvester of Tan Rosie supper club (representing the Caribbean)

Martin Morales of Ceviche restaurant and pop ups (representing Peru)

Carina of Russian Revels supper club (representing Russia)

Chris Massamba of Full House supper club (representing West Africa)

Caroline Hobkinson (representing Poland)

Pistachio Rose (representing Indian desserts)

As a last thought…if anyone would like to comment on or suggest their favourite Welsh dishes and desserts please I would welcome it!

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A trip to market, a French supper, a mini croquembouche and a chicken liver and cognac parfait to die for

It was our first day back outside with the Ogwen produce market and hooray!! The sun shone bathing us in a few glorious rays. Outside was warmer than it had been inside the church hall (our winter home), so we were happy to be back there; and so it seems, were the market visitors. All of a sudden we were busy again. On such a gorgeous day though who wouldn’t enjoy whiling away an hour or so; picking up some great local produce and soaking in a bit of vitamin D over a panad (that’s cup of tea to you non-Welsh speakers…but our coffee is popular too!).

The market square with its wrought ironwork and raised flower beds has become the ‘heart’ of Bethesda and no one was happier to be back than I. Once more ensconced in my purpose-built kitchen and out of the ‘cupboard’ at the front of the church hall. I was happy. You can tell from the picture as I’m smiling for a change.

As usual the market was an eclectic and sometimes eccentric mix of food and local crafts

There was local veg from Tatws Bryn, and Moelyci who had loads of spinach, rainbow chard and kale (pretty much the only thing that’s really great in the garden at this time of year). There was fab bread from Becws Alun and Model Bakery, who also tempted us with Kurdish pasties laced with piri-piri sauce. They were huge enough to sustain even the hungriest hiker!. Of course Lynwen was there with her amazing vegan cupcakes from Aderyn Melys, plus more traditional cakes, flapjacks, Madeline’s etc. from Cegin Brysur;  there was cheese from Caws Rhyd y Delyn, traditional greek pastries, meat from Tom at the local farm (his pork and tomato sausages are our favourites) and chocolate from Cariad.

On the craft side there were my usual favourites; all kinds of pretty things made with buttons from Miss Marple Makes, cards, badges and jewellery from Dyfal Donc and Phia Eco plus cards, cushions and lots of lovely bits and bobs.

…and then there was me, back at home in my little cafe selling local bacon baps, tomato and pork sausage baps with red onion marmalade and simple vegetable soup with wild garlic puree and creme fraiche, plus organic fair trade tea and coffee

Back home I didn’t have time to collapse in a heap, I had plenty to do for the evenings supper club. A private party for twelve with a French themed menu. I wouldn’t normally do two jobs back to back, God no…some would say I’m a masochist, but it was the only date our guests to make and the market is always the second Saturday…what could I do! I decided to go with it. You probably think me insane (and after doing it I’d probably agree!)

I prepped a fair bit the day before to get a head start. I made chicken liver and cognac parfait, red onion marmalade and the bread. All of which would be good the day after. But I still had to make the mini bite sized wild garlic and balsamic red onion tarts (Amuse Bouche) served with sloe gin slings…not very French I know. Gin sling hadn’t been the intention. I was planning on making Damson Martini’s but I discovered much too late that the last drop of Damson vodka I’d used to experiment with, was in fact the last bottle in the house. I thought I had more hidden at the back of the cupboard (away from the teen), but clearly I was mistaken. Instead we cracked open the sloe gin.

Starters all plated up and ready to go.

As a special birthday treat I decided to make a croquembouche for dessert (a French dessert made from cream filled profiteroles and caramel piled into a cone shape).  I’ve made profiteroles lots of times so didn’t think it could be that hard. I studied the pictures in my Raymond Blanc book (even though I wasn’t expecting to emulate his effort!) and decided how I was going to decorate it. I’d read somewhere that you shouldn’t attempt to make one if it’s raining…so I prayed for the weather to hold up. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to make it…or how soon in advance I should make my choux pastry so on Saturday afternoon, when I hadn’t even started, everyone else was panicking and telling me I was an over-ambitious fool… but I held my nerve and got to it. It was far from perfect and was much smaller than I’d anticipated, but I was quite proud of my effort, even though it looked more like a small hillock than a mountainous cone.  Still, the orange patisserie cream filled profiteroles glistened with golden caramel, as spun sugar wrapped the choux pastry balls in a delicate web. I finished the little mound with a sprinkle of edible gold stars. At least it was too small to collapse!

I’m not sure if it was the promise of help for the evening (from a keen friend), or tiredness from a day of cooking, but I remained remarkably calm throughout, much to the surprise of all those around me.Our  guests loved the food and this is a snippet from the email they sent me the next day…

"the food was way way out of the ordinary, and in that category of one off meals that you never forget 
as they stand out so obviously from the rest and the most !....the best pate I've ever tasted in my life!
...and I would probs say that that was the yummiest dessert I've ever had........I was so full but yet it
was SO light and slid down so easily that I had seconds"

I think towards the end of the night I got a little too comfortable with the bottle of wine in front of me and didn’t end up going to bed until 1.15am….I regreted it the next morning I can tell you…Clearing the last of the debris with a hangover was definitely not what the doctor ordered…but it was a damn good Saturday.

Chicken and Cognac pate (the best pate ever…allegedly. Serves 12 in small ramekins, or make one large dish)

1 large Echalion shallot finely chopped

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 teaspoon walnut oil

500g chicken livers (washed, cleaned and drained well)

4 tablespoons cognac

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

150g melted butter (plus 25g for cooking and 50g or so to finish)

a teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

a pinch of cinnamon, salt & pepper

Sweat the shallot and garlic gently in 25g butter and teaspoon walnut oil. When soft and turning golden add the well-drained chicken livers. Cook over a medium heat until browned all over, it should take about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the chicken livers with a slotted spoon and put in the bowl of a food processor. Add the Cognac to the hot pan and cook down until thick. Scrape any stuck bits off the bottom of the pan as these will add flavour. Adds this to the food processor with mustard, thyme, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Melt the 150g butter and add this to the processor too then blitz everything well until smooth. Transfer to a terrine dish or individual ramekins. Melt another 50 g butter and use to finish the pate pouring over the top to create a lid. This will stop it discolouring.

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St Patrick’s Day dinner

With St Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday this year it would have been rude not to invite people round to celebrate our household ancestry with us. Even though the diners were (with one exception I think) not Irish at all, it was fun to cook and serve lots of traditional dishes made with a few authentic ingredients ..a bit of Clonakilty black pudding, some white pudding, Cashel Blue cheese, Guinness and rather a lot of Jameson’s whisky…mixed with the best of Welsh produce thrown in for good measure.

Making soda bread

Irish blaas fresh from the oven…to go with the soup

With home-made soda bread and Derimon smoked salmon plus a generous ‘Irish Mule’ to begin, the party got off to a flying start.

IRISH MULE MOEL FABAN STYLE (I looked at a few versions of the Irish Mule but the best version came from the Jameson’s website)

Half fill a tumbler with ice, add a drop of Angostura bitters, a double shot of Jameson’s, juice squeezed from a quartered lime (the quarter added to the glass as well) and topped off with either ginger beer or ginger ale

We continued in true Irish fashion with hearty, belly warming portions of some of the most well-known dishes…plus the odd cry of ‘aah go on..are ya sure ya wont have more now?‘ when people declined seconds!

I’ve never visited the family in Ireland without being plied with enough tea to float a ship and enough ‘sangwiches’ to sink one! Eating, drinking and being merry (in the happy sense) are three Irish imperatives and it of course it would be rude not to offer.

Not a mouthful was left of the creamy potato, leek and onion soup, topped with black and white pudding and a sharp lemony wild garlic puree, although of course I forgot to take a picture….as usual!!

Next came a gorgeous beef and Guinness pie, topped with a rough puff pastry crust and accompanied by colcannon, purple sprouting broccoli and chard (veg supplied by Pandy farm & Moelyci…neighbouring farms in Tregarth). Apart from the colcannon needing a little more butter it was perfect…even if I say so myself! This almost did for our guests who were pretty full already by this point.

Individual beef & Guinness pies ready for the oven

Cooked and served with Colcannon and purple sprouting broccoli

But for me the piece de resistance was the sticky dark chocolate and Guinness cake, topped with a cream cheese frosting and served with confit orange and vanilla cream. I searched high and low for Guinness cake ideas and finally came cross this Nigella recipe. It was unbeatable. Not a bit of tinkering necessary, except to add the bitter-sweet confit orange, which complimented the cake perfectly. I loved the way it looked like a pint of Guinness, although there was only a hint of it in the cake itself.

Chocolate Guinness cake

I think a few people left feeling rather fuller than they’d expected, but then Irish cuisine is not on the light side after all! The cheese was barely touched….pretty unusual for a supper club.

Apart from our waitress going AWOL and not turning up the night went without hassle or incident. It was a rather chilled St Patrick’s night…although I definitely felt as though I’d been kicked in the head by a ‘Irish mule’ when I woke the next morning (they did slide down a little too easily!!)

NIGELLA’S CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE RECIPE;

CAKE: 250ml Guinness, 250g unsalted butter, 75g cocoa, 400g caster sugar, 1 x 142ml pot sour cream, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract, 275g plain flour, 2 1/2teaspoons bicarbonate of soda, half teaspoon baking powder (I didn’t add this but I will in the future as my cake sunk slightly in the middle)

TOPPING: 300g Philadelphia cream cheese, 150g icing sugar, 125ml double or whipping cream

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C, and butter and line a 23cm springform tin.

Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan and begin to warm. As it does add the butter a slice at a time until the butter’s melted. It will be quite hot so remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Next beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla in a jug and then add to the brown, buttery, beery mixture in the pan. Finally whisk in the flour, bicarb and baking powder.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

To make the icing lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, add the icing sugar a spoonful at a time and beat together. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency then spread over the top of the black cake so it looks like the frothy top of the famous pint!

Thanks Nigella for a fab cake!!

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There’s nothing like Sunday brunch to put a smile on your face

You know how sometimes you get those weeks where everything seems to go wrong…or the simplest jobs become difficult and complicated? Well that’s the way it has been for me last week. It started with a broken wrist (the other half) which meant we were down one driver in the house….and trust me that is dire when you live in a rural area and everything is at least five miles away….this was closely followed by several outbreaks of cold/flu, a locked pin number which left me stranded with a trolley load of shopping and needing to visit the local branch (yep, five miles away) to retrieve cash, plus various other events sent to try me which for the sake of discretion I will not divulge here in public!!

Close to tearing my hair out I also wasn’t sure if our very first Sunday brunch would go ahead. I was on the verge of cancelling when I received several late bookings so changed my mind….and I have to say I’m very glad I did.

Despite the hubby’s broken wrist, self-inflicted hangover and general reticence about getting out of bed to help, we couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of breakfast guests and we relished the rare opportunity to sit down and join them. Before they arrived I was a nervous wreck…by the time they left I was happy, smiling and relaxed. I knew brunch was a good idea. I think a decent brunch can cure anything!!

We didn’t really get going until 12.30. I’d been vague about the time and everyone drifted in as and when they managed to find us, but on this occasion it wasn’t a problem. Those that arrived earlier read papers and drank tea whilst we awaited the arrival of the rest.

The menu was as follows…

  • American drop pancakes with either smoked dry cure bacon and maple syrup or blackcurrant compote and Rachel’s dairy vanilla yogurt
  • Potato and scallion pancakes with smoked salmon (from Llandudno smokery), sour cream and dill
  • Red onion and smoked Welsh cheese frittata, slow roast tomatoes with rosemary and home-baked beans with chorizo
  • Home made blaas (from Niamh Shields book Comfort and Spice) and my own toasted spelt and black sesame bread
  • Home made jams and marmalade

As I got down to cooking pancakes the guests relaxed and started chatting and very soon the sound of laughter and conversation flooded the kitchen, a sure sign everyone had relaxed. Even our three-year old guest Orla had fun; rummaging through the box of toys we provided, tucking into pancakes, sausages and fresh-baked bread and she looked at home sitting round the table with everyone else.

Pancakes consumed we moved on to our second course. The tea and coffee pots replenished we all sat down and had a long leisurely chat. It was perfect. Even the other half enjoyed himself despite his ailments! No one could quite belive it when we looked at the clock and it said twenty to three!

It was such a sociable gathering I forgot to take pictures of the food (except the bread)…totally forgot.

Hosting Sunday brunch seems to impact more on family life. With hubby working full-time sometimes he needs a break at the weekend just to flop, so brunch might not happen weekend …but I think it was far too enjoyable to say never again!

Keep an eye out for ad hoc brunch events…the next one will be in the spring. As everyone left Orla smiled and said thank you for the lovely food….oh and here’s what the grown up guests said about it as well 🙂

Denise, thank you so very much for your hospitality today. I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed everything about our brunch, it really was brilliant and we would all love to come again sometime (Steve)

Absolutely delicious brunch enjoyed today, huge thankyou to Dee, family and the other guests. A dull wet Sunday transformed into a very enjoyable food experience (Mark)

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Lazy Sunday brunch

I love a long drawn out Sunday brunch…whether it aids recovery after a Saturday night out, or sets me up for a day of healthy hill walking there’s nothing better to prepare me for the day ahead.

For me the perfect brunch includes lots of different elements; a bit of sweet, savoury, salty, spicy some carbs for energy (and maybe just a bit of oil to settle the stomach…I swear by a fry up to cure a hangover)..

This weekend will see the first in an ad hoc series of Sunday brunches at which we will be giving you the opportunity to sample some of the sausages from the new range I have created with Johnny 6 the butchers (G Williams & son in Bangor) as well as trying other lovely brunch dishes…dont worry vegetarians, it’s not just a sausage fest…there will be plenty of vegetarian alternatives!

If you’d like to join us for the perfect start to your Sunday the menu is as follows……

 

American style pancakes with bacon and maple syrup or blueberries

or

Potato pancakes with smoked salmon and sour cream

followed by:

Home made baked beans with chorizo (or without if you are vegetarian)

Rosemary roasted tomatoes

Smoky cheese frittata

plus

Fresh squeezed fruit juices

toast and jam if you are still hungry

Pots of organic fair trade coffee or tea

the Sunday papers, a log fire, a big table and a comfy sofa

Donation will be £10 a head…yep thats all we are asking…and if you need a hair of the dog you have to bring your own!! Brunch will be served between 11 and 2 and bookings are essential….its kid friendly so don’t be afraid to ask and we will provide toys.

either email on moelfabansecretsupperclub@live.co.uk I will respond immediately so if you don’t hear back try phoning on 07775 828769

or send a message through Facebook or twitter

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I’m back!…Christmas markets & supper clubs

Last week was a whirlwind of activity, beginning with a pop-up cafe and jam & chutney stall at the Ogwen Christmas produce and craft market and finishing with three back-to-back supper clubs.

The market was reasonably simple cooking lovely dry cure bacon baps, home-made Moroccan chick pea and spinach soup and Welsh rarebit (made with strong Welsh cheddar and ale) and chutney:….but it was a busy day. I hadn’t anticipated it being so busy and since we were not allowed to use the bigger chapel kitchen I ended up stuck in a tiny poky kitchen with very little surface space, no electric and a boiler that seemed to take for ever to heat! People queued for coffee and we waited….and waited….but all was well in the end and we sold out of bacon, baps and Welsh rarebit…I also sold out of jam & chutney which pretty much put paid to my second stall at the Moelyci Christmas fair…but Sophie of Phia designs (my wonderful seamstress friend that makes all my table linen, napkins, aprons and the most gorgeous little hemp bags which I used for my Christmas hampers) stepped in to sell her lovely fluffy scarves, hats, bags and other stuff made from recycled organic cotton and materials. All I had left from the market were enough jars and bags to make four hampers; which I also sold.

Jam and chutney depleted and with two days break, it was time for three back to back supper clubs. Now I like a challenge but on this occasion I was just plain silly…I got carried away at the planning stage because I wanted to cook everything, so I ended up not only offering a menu choice but three starters, three mains and three desserts; which I cooked on my own. Crazy woman…yep thats me! The dishes were as follows…but you have to forgive my lack of pictures…cooking and photography were one step too far!

Starters:

Beetroot soup with creamy goats feta

Classic Conwy moules mariniere

Chicken liver parfait with soda bread toast and fruity chutney

Mains:

Slow roast Moelyci pork, roast potatoes and slow cooked spiced red cabbage

Chicken breast stuffed with basil butter and wrapped in local pancetta, potato dauphinoise and ratatouille

Wild nantmor mushroom risotto with white truffle oil

Desserts:

Sticky chocolate brownie with mincemeat ice cream

Boozy blackcurrant trifle

Seasonal fruit crumble with creme anglaise

I spent the week cooking in bulk although  the menu was  actually a simple one with lots of scope for pre-preparation. The soup, trifle and brownie were Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipes; the mushroom risotto I adapted from a River Cafe recipe and the chicken from a Jamie Oliver recipe.

The mincemeat ice cream was my own, successful creation and the mussels, crumble, pork, dauphinoise and ratatouille are standard combinations I regularly cook. I made two different pate variations, one my own which I wasn’t totally convinced by and a second (a Raymond Blanc parfait recipe) that I liked even less. Everyone else really liked both, but I was looking for something lighter and creamier and both recipes I used made a rather strong pate.

For those that asked and are keen to know, the ingredients used in the meal came from the following local suppliers….

Smoked salmon – Derimon

Anglesey eggs

Calon Wen butter (salted and unsalted)

Home-made damson vodka, creme de cassis, tomato and tomatillo chutney, beetroot relish, carrot relish and tomato and chilli jam

Bramley apples, beetroot, red cabbage, potatoes, onions, parsley and garlic from Pippa & John at Tyddyn Berth

Sarporo Blue Danube potatoes, peppers, aubergine and tomatillos – David Shaw at Henfaes

Conwy mussels

Moelyci pork (very happy pigs)

Anglesey chicken, Chicken livers and Wrexham pancetta came via Williams the butchers or Johnny six as they are known locally

Nantmor shiitake and oyster mushrooms 

Thyme and rosemary and bay from my garden

raspberries and black currants from Moelyci

Halen Mon salt

Petros olive oil

Perl las blue cheese

Seriol and feta Y Cwt Caws

Caws and Farmhouse cheeses from Rhyd y Delyn

and I think that might be it!!….Truly a 30 mile Christmas menu! Here are a few pictures from the evenings…there aren’t many as we were so busy and no pictures of desserts which is an absolute crime!!

Christmas seduction cocktails (named by Rosie the waitress)...apparantly it was a 'sexy' cocktail that needed an appropriate name!!...

beetroot soup with goats cheese feta
pate with tomato & chilli relish and toast
talking to guests

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Filed under British food, Christmas menu's, event catering, home cooking, living room restaurant, local produce, produce markets, secret supper, Sources and suppliers, Uncategorized, underground restaurant