Tag Archives: Rhyd y Delyn

Out with the old and in with the new: a seasonal solstice supper

the end of the night...this time lots of food pics, but no people!!!

Now that midsummer is upon us and half the year is already gone, its time to bid farewell to some of my favourite early produce. Asparagus, which only pays a fleeting visit, sadly finished cropping this week and it seems the strawberries at Moelyci have almost finished too. I’m sure elsewhere they will continue for a while yet but I’m glad I have used and preserved plenty. But before I start to pine for these wonderful summer treasures, it’s a happy hello to all the rest of the joys of June. Redcurrants are plentiful in the fruit fields of Moelyci and in my garden at home; elder flowers are still with us and a new batch of black currants are on their way. I have been out collecting plenty of the elder flowers this week for cordial, champagne and to use in the dessert I made for supper club.

I also paid visits to my three favourite vegetable suppliers: Pippa and John who give me my weekly veg box currently have an abundance of beetroot, tender courgettes, sweet young carrots, new potatoes, lettuce, a variety of chard, basil; Paul at Moelyci who has all that wonderful fruit in the market garden shop as well as lettuces ready for harvesting and lots of fresh parsley (something I don’t have much luck with) and Hootons farm shop, which is where I’ve got my asparagus, and now they also have broad beans too.   All those vegetables have kept me busy chutneying, and I did have a good few jars of spiced courgette and beetroot relish until I sold it all on Sunday, but that’s another story! I also finally got round to bottling all the liqueurs that have lurked in the back of my cupboard since the beginning of March (Creme de Cassis, raspberry vodka, loganberry vodka and sloe gin) as I wanted to crack open the Cassis for supper club.

Supper club was also the perfect opportunity to try out my new toy. Inspired by Dave’s smoking exploits at Derimon I ordered myself a little Cameron’s stove top smoker; they aren’t cheap at £43 a go for a small one, but my goodness it was worth it. It came with two small tubs of smoking chips (Alder and Hickory) and a big bag of oak.

my new smoker

I decided to try salmon as a  first attempt and so following the instructions, and using Alder chips as suggested, I set up the smoker. Twenty five minutes later I gently slid back the lid to reveal a lightly cooked, delicately and perfectly smoked piece of salmon. It was remarkably simple, yet pleasingly effective. Once it had cooled I gently pulled the salmon apart, tossing it with some new potatoes and salad, olive oil and a dollop of horseradish cream. This then formed part of my pick nick to take to the teens sports day on Saturday afternoon so I could test it out on friends . The unanimous verdict was that it was absolutely gorgeous!

doing its thing

perfect hot smoked salmon

There was a full house at supper club this weekend, which saw us celebrating the solstice or midsummer, a birthday dinner, an anniversary, and a welcome visit from two regulars and a new friend. It was moderately boisterous and it was nice to see people relaxed enough to come and chat in the kitchen. The menu for the evening of course celebrated the best of the season

Prosecco with Cassis (does that make it a Kir Royale, or a Prosecco Kir or just plain Kir?) with ricotta, parma ham, basil and balsamic vinegar topped bruschetta

The we said goodbye to the asparagus in style with mini asparagus and parmesan souffle tarts ( a variation on my souffle-gratin recipe) served with beetroot relish and carrots and courgette slaw

tarts ready to bakeplating tarts on the bench in the kitchen

For main it was hot smoked salmon with pan-fried new potatoes, baby broad beans, asparagus and chard and topped with horseradish cream. I collected the salmon bright and early from Mermaid seafood in Llandudno (sadly our only decent fishmongers locally) who stock a fantastic array of local and sustainable fish. The fillets were a really good size, unlike those you might get in the supermarket. I cannot  emphasise how much better it is to buy fish and meat from a specialist: It is fresher, often local and the portions are so much bigger. I don’t think there is much difference in price bu if buying on the high street is more expensive…well you certainly get more for your money!

All I did was season the salmon with salt and pepper and squeeze over some lime juice. For the horseradish cream I used a tub of creme fraiche which I seasoned with salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne then stirred in enough horseradish to taste, but not so it is overpowering. I used English Provender horseradish which was excellent.

Ideally, if I’d had the finances, I would have bought the large smoker, but i had no idea how accommodating the small one would be. In the end I was only able to fit three salmon fillets in it at a time, so had to cook in four batches, but I gave myself plenty of time and kept the salmon warm in the bottom of the oven. It was a simple dish; but in this case less was definitely more!

The elder flowers heads were wrapped in muslin and chucked in to heat with milk and cream, to impart a delicate flowery taste to another simple, but effective dish; Elderflower pannacotta. The light creaminess complimented the sweet sharpness of a strawberry and red currant coulis and fresh berries. I think I even saw one person rubbing his finger across the plate to get every last flavourful bit of coulis.

As ever we completed the meal with local Welsh cheeses, crackers and coffee. This time we included two hard but mild goats cheeses from Y Cwt Caws, our usual smoked brie from Derimon, a blue Perl Las from Caws Cenarth in Cardigan and we were lucky enough to be asked to sample a new Brie from Rhyd y Delyn, which was delicious although needed to be slightly riper we all thought.

A few lovely comments about the night, the first from Paola (of Dr Zigs Dragon Bubbles…if you ever need seriously GIANT bubbles these are the guys to call!)

“Just had the most awesome scrummy yummy tastiest glorious omgoodnes meal EVER at Moel Faban secret supper club. And met the most wonderful people! And we Bubbled too!! This is one of those things that just must be experienced to be believed – and really should be on everyone’s bucket list”

and from Anouska whose birthday it was…

“I’ve been eating out with Non for the last ten years and she usually complains about something. This is the first time I have ever heard her say that everything was delicious”

Thanks everyone it was a great night xxx

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Filed under British food, Foraging for fruit, home cooking, local produce, secret supper, Sources and suppliers, sustainable fish, Uncategorized, underground restaurant, welsh cheese

Boeuf Bourguinion recipe for a Saturday supper with a hint of France

Every supper club we host is enjoyable, I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t, but Saturday evening was particularly lovely. I’m not sure if my joy de vivre was down to the return of the sunshine bringing with it the expectant promise of approaching spring, or the cooking some of my favourite foods (boeuf bourguignon, chocolate mousse…mmmm) but the evening was definitely very upbeat and I was much more relaxed than of late. It was a remarkably stress free evening, apart from the need to calm two giddy teenagers, the preparation was in hand and Sean even got the chance to relax with a beer and watch the rugby! Unfortunately our celebration of all things French remained with the food seeing as they did not do so well in their game.

Friday was a most productive day with all the food orders being collected in good time, even though the day began with a visit from the environmental health department. I knew that sooner or later this would happen but still I was filled with equal amounts of confidence and trepidation as I awaited their arrival. I was relieved to find the woman who visited most helpful and supportive. She was very happy with what she saw and I passed with flying colours. The issue of licensing was raised and it remains a rather grey area. Initially I was under the impression that it was fine to give an alcoholic drink as a ‘gift’ to start the meal but I have since heard from another supper club host that giving ANY alcohol is illegal if money changes hands. I queried this with the woman who said she would ask licensing and get back to me. So for now at least cocktails are off the menu!

We started our French supper once our guests arrived with a mixed olive tapenade made with Petros Olives (grown on the family estate in Cyprus and then imported and sold locally) on toasted Pain de Seigle sur Levain by Bethesda Bakers makers of naturally leavened sourdough breads, followed by a Soupe au Pistou (a classic French peasant soup) using as much seasonal vegetables as I could find, cannellini beans and which was then flavoured with a kind of French pesto (the pistou bit).

For main course I made my favourite boeuf bourguignon: a flavoursome reminder of French camping holidays in the Vendee with our then very young kids. We spent hot days at the beach, touring small towns with bustling markets brimming with saucisson, cheeses and olives, having the occasional night out to eat local seafood. Mostly we cooked in our tent, or bought in the boeuf bourguignon from a local cafe which sold large tubs to take away. The kids ate theirs with frite (and sometimes we did too!).

Boeuf Bourguignon (serves up to 6)…This is my tried and tested recipe which is almost as good as the dish I remember…but sorry there is no picture, my photography skills rubbish as usual…the problem is I need a dedicated supper club photographer, I just don’t have the time and everyone else forgets unless I remember to remind them!!!

100g fatty dry cure bacon cut into dice

2 large onions finely chopped,

1.2kg piece of beef (you can use shin, topside, chuck or whatever cut the butcher recommends) cut into chunks,

a bouquet garni made with a couple of bay leaves a large sprig of thyme and some parsley stalks tied together with string

a good glug of olive oil

a bottle of burgundy

200ml good beef stock,

1 and half tablespoons plain flour,

couple of crushed garlic cloves,

200g button mushrooms

12 baby onions, shallots or pickling onions.

Chopped parsley to finish.

Marinade the beef, onions and bacon in the wine with the bouquet garni over night. The next day, remove the meat and onions and strain the wine putting to one side.

Heat the oil in a pan or casserole and fry the onions, bacon and meat in batches until browned. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute or so, then add enough wine to deglaze the pan. When it turns slightly sticky pour in the rest of the saved marinade and the beef stock ( I made my own the day before with some bones from the butcher and chopped vegetables and herbs). Add salt and pepper and throw the bouquet garni back in. Bring to the boil and turn it into an oven proof casserole dish. Cook in a low oven (gas 3, 160 degrees C) for a couple of hours. After an hour add the button mushrooms and onions.

I served this with the perfect seasonal accompaniment part-boiled and then olive oil roasted pink fir apple potatoes and local purple sprouting broccoli. The knobbly uneven appearance of the potatoes closely resembles the Jerusalem artichoke, although the taste is very much spud, set off by that hint of extra virgin olive oil.

The rather knobbly pink fir apple potatoes

For dessert I made a chocolate mousse trio courtesy of my Green and Blacks cookbook (a Christmas present from my good friend, but terrible waitress Molly). The deliciously rich, smooth flavour of the white chocolate and cardamom, dark chocolate and coffee and bitter chocolate and blackcurrant complemented each other perfectly and since they were served in small pretty cups and shot glasses the quantity of chocolate was not too overwhelming. A simple Rosemary flavoured shortbread finished the picture.

Rosemary biscuits.

I used 250g organic Rachel’s dairy butter, 125g  Billingtons golden caster sugar, 300g self-raising flour and couple of tablespoons chopped rosemary.

Cream the butter and sugar, then mix in the flour and rosemary. Knead on a lightly floured board until a stiff dough forms. Ideally leave in the fridge for half an hour to rest. Roll out  to about and eighth of an inch and cut shapes. Put on a greased baking tray and bake in a medium over for about 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown.

I don’t think I threw one bit of food away; I’ve never seen such clean and empty plates! One guest asked for a spoon so she didn’t leave any of the gravy behind and several people accepted the seconds I offered. Even the cheese board served with the coffee at the end of the meal was fairly depleted (I chose my favourite Camembert from Rhyd y Delyn, soft creamygoats cheese balls with garlic and herbs and a hard mild goats cheese from Y Cwt Caws). We ran out of biscuits (which I think the kids must have nicked) and did several rounds with the coffee pot.As is a quirk of North Wales (and probably other close knot areas) several of our guests that arrived with different groups knew each other which meant the evening was all the livelier with flowing conversation between the tables. Perfect!

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