Tag Archives: seasonal produce

Fathers, families and first dates at our ‘round the world’ Sunday lunch

Caipirinha's and melon set out for those sitting at the 'chefs' table

 

Soupe d'avocat abidjanaise

 

freshly picked garden salad

 

a mixed plate full of Slovakian gulas, rice and Italian Caponata astrange concoction that remarkably worked!

A big thank you to my stand-in kitchen bitches who got up to help keep the kitchen clear between courses

The 'IMMENSE' Pavlova

Lunch was advertised as a ‘round the world’ supper club for father’s day, featuring dishes from all six countries playing their world-cup matches on the day. That included Brazil, Paraguay, Italy, Ivory Coast and New Zealand all of whom inspired a tropical slant to the menu…but then there was Slovakia!!

Now I’m not biased in my culinary slant; I will try dishes from everywhere and anywhere, but to be honest, Eastern European food doesn’t really do it for me. I’m not the biggest fan. The thought of picked everything, beetroot, sausage and cabbage, in the midst of a hot summer, was a total turn off. So with this in mind, but still wanting to represent the country on my menu, I thought I’d get out and do a wee bit of food research so that I could try and find a dish to slip in amongst the tropical fare.

We had a friend staying for the week who without much protest acted as a willing guinea pig in our testing of various dishes. We ate the world in a week…and once we’d done this we came up with a final shortlist of dishes which included the strange ‘Segedinsky gulas’ a combination of lean shoulder of pork and sauerkraut…..several people commented on how disgusting it sounded, but undaunted we gave it a go and it as totally delicious. Several people suggested it had been their favourite dish of the day.

I was less successful with my planned Cassava cake, a dish I was desperate to make as Cassava is such a ubiquitous vegetable in Paraguay, Brazil and the Ivory Coast. Having ingeniously located a source for Cassava (no mean feat in Bangor), I bought one with the intention of returning for more if my experiments were popular. I even asked the guy in the shop if they always had it in. He told me they did. So following the universal popularity of the cake I went back for more, it was only a few days later but to my disappointment they had run out, and there was no chance of any arriving before Sunday. Of course this being Bangor North Wales there was literally nowhere else to go (save driving 100 miles to Manchester). Sadly I had to concede defeat and the Cassava cake will just have to have its supper club debut another day.

On the plus side it allowed me to focus all my attention on the Pavlova which was, according to the teen, ‘immense’…and although it literally was immense (10 inches wide and about 4 inches high) what she meant in teen speak was that it was amazing, or really good. Sticking with the tropical theme it was topped with passion fruit, pineapple and banana.

The rest of the round the world menu went like this-

Brazilian Caipirinha’s (made with chopped and mashed limes, sugar, loads of ice and a bottle of Sagatiba Cachaca). Made in a bucket, which was well and truly emptied by the end of lunch.

Melon balls with lime and ginger and tiny pearls of local goats cheese mozzarella (very retro according to my friend Molly, but also delicious)

Soupe d’avocat abidjanaise (chilled avocado soup with lime and Tabasco). This is a traditional Ivorian dish. This was totally new and I hadn’t even tried it before I made it. It was a very scary leap of faith that paid off. One or two people commented that it was their favourite dish so the recipe will be added to the menu/recipe page.

Segedinsky Gulas with rice (from Slovakia)

Caponata (Italy) made with local tomatoes, Cyprus olives from a local importer, eggplant, and herbs all bought fresh from the farmers market on Saturday

Served with mixed leaf salad, purple scallions and baby tomatoes picked from the garden half an hour before everyone arrived.

For dessert we had our Fresh fruit Pavlova; a New Zealand invention (made with Italian meringue) to honour Anna Pavlova on her tour of the country. We finished off with coffee and Anzac biscuits another New Zealand speciality.

Strangely our attendees were not all there to celebrate father’s day (although most of them were fathers). We had a family with two small children, the smallest being 3 months old and too young to enjoy the food, although their 3 year old tucked in to most of the dishes with gusto (he didn’t like the melon with the yucky stuff on it), there was a couple on a first ‘date’…(I use this term loosely as they looked like they’d started the date early and muttered something about just having got up when they arrived) and the other half requested dinner with his two mates for father’s day (one of whom had been left ‘home alone’ by his girlfriend and the other was leaving to be reunited with his) …they sat at what we shall laughingly call the chefs table, i.e. in the kitchen away from the other guests so they could be silly and misbehave. It ended up with me swearing at them a lot and them heckling me…don’t think I will be indulging them with that again!!…On the plus side I turned them all into my ‘kitchen bitches’ as my usual helper Hilly is gallivanting off to Glastonbury for what appears to be 2 weeks!!!

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Sunny garden exploits

It feels as if I haven’t blogged for ages. I guess its one of those things; when its cold and dull we talk a lot about what were doing, or going to be doing when the weather improves… then the sun comes out and we just get out there and ‘do’, and of course that’s exactly what I’ve been up to.

After a run of weekly supper clubs and private parties, a couple of hectic weekends (we had tickets to the radio 1 big weekend and of course with teens around we quickly became embroiled in all the excitement of having a rake of celebrities at large in our home town), and some time out to go camping we are now starting to focus on upcoming dates and producing our own veg and fruit to serve up…..The bonus of having some time out is that the garden is now looking glorious. The unprecedented warm spell has created an abundance of lush green foliage and we have heaps of tiny sprouting seedlings which will hopefully all grow into fantastic organic produce.

Although our garden is long, we don’t have an enormous veg patch. For anyone wanting to grow their own, there is masses which will do well in large pot on a patio. Our courgettes are all in pots (make sure they are large pots and there is only one plant per pot) and things also rocket, radishes, strawberries and PSB….once there is space in the raised beds I will plant out the PSB but for the moment it’s doing great.

potatoes and lettuce

 

spinach, beetroot and more lettuce...webs wonderful and lollo rosso

 

peas and a big tub of rocket in the background

 

broad beans and fruit canes in the background

 

had to include a quick picture of the rest of the garden as it's looking so lovely

 

One last thing before I head back out to the sun, we are changing the dinner scheduled for 19th June to a Sunday lunch on the 20th June…family commitments take precedence…..but then this might make a nice treat for fathers day??…or just so you can enjoy a leisurely dinner in the sun….email or message me to save your spaces. Other dates remain the same….26th June is our next scheduled dinner after this, but feel free to ask about private dinners for groups of 6 to 12 people

Meanwhile enjoy the sun

Denise xxx

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May Bank holiday lunch

Here is a round-up of the lunch in pictures.

English early season asparagus laid out in a roasting tin with lemon wedges and sprinkled with salt and pepper. roasted for about 8 to 10 minutes and served with Anglesey Sea Bream fish cakes, wild garlic and watercress salad and little bowls of fresh herb and yogurt sauce (below)

making individual Black beef and wild mushroom pies…what transpired to be the most time-consuming job ever!! It took me an hour and a half to make about 10 small pies!!!

Rhubarb, roasted with orange rind and juice and split vanilla pods

Pudding, mash and PSB

Rosie the teen waitress

JoJo the excitable supper club dog

Rhubarb and Cointreau Cranachan. The baked rhubarb was mixed with toasted oatmeal, Cointreau and whipped cream.

Me with home-made crackers (left) and Hilly, my kitchen helper warning me not to bring her any more washing up!!

Finally, I have managed to get some time to update the blog. Its fantastic having so many private dinners, but what with trying to get on with life and all the other things I seem to fit in, I find myself with so much to write, but never the time to do it!!

Our last dinner took place on Bank holiday Monday. A lunch for what turned out to be seven in the end (their teens dumped dinner for a climbing course). I was intrigued. I didn’t know much about my prospective guests other than that they were staying in Wales for the week, that they varied in age and there were no vegetarians.

The menu was devised to make full use of all the seasonal local produce possible, while still keeping it exciting (which is hard in spring when we still seem to be ploughing through the end of season root veg, while the new crops are still growing). It was as follows

Citrus blush cocktails – using my own home-made Limoncello

Anglesey Sea Bream fish cakes with baked early season English Asparagus, wild garlic and watercress and fresh herb dressing

Welsh Black Beef and wild mushroom pudding, creamed potatoes with leeks and purple sprouting broccoli

Rhubarb and Cointreau Cranachan

Local cheeses, home made Rowan and Damson and Crab Apple Jelly. coffee and tea

For the main bulk of the produce I didn’t even have to venture out of my village. Leeks, purple sprouting, carrots and potatoes were all from the local farm. Herbs and wild garlic were from my garden and my neighbours, rhubarb was from another friends garden.

The beef came from the local butcher and the cheese from my usual suppliers (mild Seriol goats cheese from Cwt Caws, Camembert from Rhyd y Delyn Farm and Smoked Brie from Dave at Derimon, whose smoked mature cheddar was this week featured on the Great British Menu (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00sbqrt/Great_British_Menu_Series_5_Wales_Judging/

The wild mushrooms were from Cynan, who is similarly tipped for celebrity, as he has just been filmed for Country file!!

As I believe I’ve mentioned before, we do have some FANTASTIC food producers around here, and I only hope my dinner guests enjoyed sampling the food. It transpired that they were up from London (Hackney being the home of the couple that booked) and they had spotted my details in ELLE Decoration magazine. They hadn’t yet managed to get to a supper club on home turf….so travelled 300 miles to visit me!!!…well not quite, but I like to think they did. Lunch was fab, with lots of interesting conversation and a very excited dog, who I think had become giddy on country air. Even the sun shone for our visitors. We couldn’t have asked for more!!

Denise xx

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