Thursday, 4 November 2010

Come dine with me !

Two new dates for his month..

Secret Supper - Saturday 13th November
Vintage Afternoon Tea - Sunday 21st November

I haven't disclosed the menus but am happy to do so and gluten free is
always available, just let me know a couple of days beforehand.

Tell your friends and family, further details are on and tickets can either be bought from me directly or through http://www.wegottickets/ which will be posted shortly.

I look forward to welcoming you and yours..

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Happy Birthday Ursula....

This supper was a birthday celebration for fifteen 24 year olds! The birthday girl being the braver of the bunch had chosen a supper night/bespoke dinner to celebrate with her soon transpired that she seemed to be the only one who really knew what she was coming to!

With the menu being left to me and after a brief chat I decided a shared dish rather than individual plating would be more convivial so chose a seafood curry as a main with a serving of pea and ham broth served in tea cups to start.

Chocolate cake with berries to finish and handmade chocolates with popping candy as final overload.

After all the work it made me smile to watch the reaction the popping candy got, applause and cheers. The simplest of things, perhaps a memory of childhood?

They arrived in groups, sort of 'pack' like, spilling into my tiny space excited but unsure. With pleasantries exchanged and a very feeble attempt on my part to ask names which I immediately forgot, one of the 2 men steered them to their seats, it came out later that he was slightly intimidated at the supposed formality and needed a 'job to do'.

With everyone seated they began to relax and the food was hoovered up.

The 'boyfriend' had come proudly bearing a cake he had baked, a fabulous assembly resembling to my eye, the 02 arena! It was this man that noticed I was knackered and put an end to a good night, but not before clearing the table. A first, and a grateful one at that... Bravo to the man with no name, your mother has done a good job !

I had to laugh at the poor man who throughout the meal seemed rather subdued. He admitted at the end that he had no idea where he was, had never heard of a supper club and thought he was coming to one of his friend's houses only to find himself standing in my living room and being told to put his coat on in the bedroom by a strange woman in a mad black hat!

They all wrote in the visitors book, a good memory and I woke the next morning completely forgetting that I had encouraged them to write on the bathroom mirror, giving it a slightly squat like air. Great comments, some of which I needed translating !

Friday, 10 September 2010

Supperclub night..

Keep a look out as I am to host a supper night this month. Let your friends or family know. I look forward to welcoming you.

I will post a menu shortly on http://www.supperclubfangroup.ning/ and tickets are to be bought from http://www.wegottickets/

Have a look and see if it appeals..

Happy 90th...

This was afternoon tea to celebrate the coming of age, a suprise. With alot of the family
living far and wide it was to be mix of family closer by and long standing friends, amounting to 25.

Afternoon tea is such an English affair and one that appeals to many. From my point of view
it is a winner as visually it is always appealing. This being July I had the pick of fruits to work
with and as this was to be a suprise I was left to choose the menu. With such a broad age range
and palates the table groaned under a mound of small sandwiches, sausage rolls, strawberries and cream and various cakes of - Raspberry cheesecake..
Fallen chocolate souffle..
Blueberry and lavender.
Banana cake with passion fruit icing..
Meringues with sugared lavender..

Thankfully the sun shone and people sat in a lovely little garden, a pretty oasis hidden behind
a rose covered wall right in the centre of Brighton. It often takes a little while for people to
gravitate towards the table and they can need a nudge, as though they are a little afraid of
being the first one to actually ruin the display. Eventually most were happily sat with a plate of
something balanced on their knee and a china cup in their hand. People are always complimnetary, deserved or not comments are always welcome.

Underground farmers market

Next week, Sunday 17th September is the second showing of the underground farmers market run by the innovative Ms Marmite in London. I didn't go to the first one but apparently it was a huge success and this one seems even bigger and I am looking forward to it.

I know I will be impressed by the produce and even more so by peoples unusual ways in expressing what they enjoy. For the few of you who don't know, her blog is well worth following. Educative, informative, no nonsense and brave is this woman.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Birthday party on the Thames... May 1st

It was only after accepting to cater for a birthday party did I actually stop to think what I had undertaken. I had said yes so confidently with a casual wave of the hand that I even convinced myself it was almost nothing. Only after waking in the early hours with rising panic day after day did I let myself face what was ahead of me. The remit was catering for 70 people, including children and all the dietary requests to be served from bespoke picnic boxes to include all food in seperate containers, drink, gift bags, chocolates cutlery, menu and napkin/toothpicks. All this was left to me to source, design, cook, assemble and deliver to a boat where the guests would be waiting. This I was doing alone. Yes alone, ah the wisdom of hindsight ! Sourcing all the required bits and pieces was the easy part and choosing 70 bespoke boxes of chocolates from Hotel Chocolat was fun ! With everything being delivered to me over several weeks my flat became simply a warehouse where I would crawl over the mountain of boxes and collapse into bed. With a stroke of luck at the last minute a friend living in Oxford offered the use of her kitchen, so with everything loaded into the van I drove into the jaws of hell ! My Oxford kitchen was 4 floors up with no lift so challenging to say the least. My daughter arrived into organised chaos, smiling the serene smile of someone who has no clue as to what is about to ensue! The next 48 hours was a blur of food mountains, wrapping, unwrapping, assembling boxes, cooking, cooking,cooking, refilling the bath with bags of ice to keep things cold, not sleeping, more cooking with every possible surface covered in food containers as we filled and filled. We both under estimated how long it takes just to fill containers. 8 per box, 70 times over. It takes friggin forever and saps your will to live ! Our delivery time was to be 12 exactly as the boat doesn't wait. The last hour went by with a speed I can only describe as purposefully cruel. I don't think either of us actually took a breath for that hour. My daughter deserves a medal for having to run up and down 4 flights of stairs with 70 boxes only able to carry 2 at a time due to their shape. She said she was seeing stars... With the van hire company letting me down at the last minute I had to take a van half the size I needed so also required a taxi van and we loaded up both. A taxi driver clearly unused to hard graft huffed and puffed his way to his tip as I sent him up and down the stairs. Unfortunately not only was I to cater for the day I was also on the guest list with my daughter. A manic, unsuccessful attempt to make myself look presentable was done in the taxi from the park and ride after we delivered. My daughter however is of the age and beauty that a simple flick of the hair turns her into a goddess. Incrediably we were only 15 mins late and arrived outwardly smiling and calm into the hands of various male guests who threw the boxes over shoulders and under arms, while I looked on in horror imagining the up turned mess once opened ! Of course the sun shone, the rain held off just long enough as we sailed up and down the Oxfordshire countryside, lots was drunk, chocolates and cakes handed out, everyone 'played' with their gifts, tears were shed by the birthday boy, a father of 5 and a good time was had by all and you and I are the only ones who really know the truth! Menu... Cajun chicken, Pork kebabs, Roasted vegetable kebabs, Pesto rice salad, Rocket and tomato salad, Vegetable quiche, Meatballs and homemade spicy tomato sauce, Mayonnaise, Mini pittas .....Fruit salad in Cointreau syrup and Chocolate cup cakes

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Brighton Food Festival..

This month has seen the close of the annual Brighton Food Festival. My tiny
contribution was to host a supper night organised through the event company
Clever Events , with the usual format of people buying tickets from http://www.wegottickets/ after choosing their preferred menu/night or location.

As is often the case the need to be flexible is always there as a couple of cancellations are to be expected which meant we were a smaller group than usual, but no less enjoyable. The flowers from a gentlemen guest was given top marks, so appreciated after all the hard work . A more charming group I couldn't of wished for. Cheerful, engaging and encouraging with plenty of the right noises accompanying each course !
Being a smaller group I seated them together which seemed to work well, each with interesting careers, families and stories to tell.

It was interesting to hear the observations from one the couples about another
supper night they had attended. Each night differs in every way and this I think is part of the appeal, never knowing if you are going to get the good, bad or ugly ! This and satisfying the human capacity for curiosity, a glimpse into anothers life and their personal belongings.
They all toyed with the idea of hosting their own night, which I applaud. They slipped away at a respectable hour, warmed by lots of food, wine and good
company, leaving me to the mess, just as it should be.

p.s..... this morning the mess remains.. but I am cheered immediately by my
lovely red tulips..

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

More Cake...

Cakes boxed and ready for delivery -

Chocolate & Guinness with a cream cheese topping...

Chocolate mousse cake with physillias... gluten free

Lemon Drizzle...

Almond and Orange... gluten & butter free

For those of you local to Brighton all of the above are available at 'Cream Tea', next to the Theatre. These are

testament that it is possible to cook and eat something gluten free that not only looks ' normal ' but also

competes equally in taste and texture to your standard version.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Pudding Night...

As part of the supper nights I have decided to host an evening soley dedicated to the joy of puddings. !

It is the perfect time of year, cold outside, Christmas has come and gone, spring is not yet in sight and with times
difficult for many I can think of no better way to soothe than the warmth and comfort of a home made pudding.
Especially the classic ones, syrupy, stodgy with loads of custard. These are like 'culinary cuddles'
reminding us of our childhood, school days, our mothers. Simpler times.

Britain has a long rich, often forgotten history of puddings and most people have a favourite...tell me
yours and I will do my best to accomodate - Friday 12th February.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Vintage Afternoon Tea

Sunday dawned a crisp clear day for my forthcoming guests. I awoke reassured that the tables, previously
laid, looked suitably pretty although I find it difficult to be objective. You need the observations and fresh
eyes of others for that.
The various pieces of china lovingly sourced were placed alongside, glass, silverware, pretty cake stands complete
with original victorian postcards written as love letters to husband and wife.

The tea menu consisted of small sandwiches, cakes - chocolate and guinness/honey and coconut/small pavlovas with cream and passion fruit/chocolate shoes filled with chocolate mousse - all served with leaf tea, prosecco and pink lemonade.

The old 'non original ' weighing scales I had found filled with jelly beans looked very cute. It is interesting to see that generally the same things tend to be popular, chocolate always seems to be a winner in any form and so do pavlovas.

One of my guests was Australian and was naturally very happy at the sight of them.

Thank goodness as they were my
third attempt ! I have made them so many times with no trouble yet of course on the day could not get the oven
temperature right.

The honey and coconut cake wasn't eaten, which is good as it helps to know what should be avoided in future. I had cut it into squares and as it was uncovered this had possibly made it too dry.

The chocolate shoes courtesy of Choccywoccydodah in Brighton worked well with the mousse piped inside, even though
they were very sceptical about it working . Odd, why on earth not ?

The large table of guests were ideal, they all knew each other well and were lively, cheery and very relaxed. They bought another guest unannounced which worked out fine and always welcome. A voucher was requested for a another
who couldn't make it.

I look forward to my next....

Monday, 4 January 2010

Happy Christmas Isabella...x

A homemade Christmas gift.. in keeping with our 'recessionista' Christmas 2009 !

Vintage tea cup with homemade coffee and chocolate cup cake, wrapped in pink tuille complete with edible
silver balls.

Christmas cakes..

Christmas pudding cakes... with love from my daughter.
So cute.

Christmas pavlova...

Pavlova with cream and winter berries.... Soft and gooey inside, crunchy on the outside.
Springform tin 25cm / serves approx 10
8 egg whites ( room tempertaure )
pinch salt
500g caster sugar
4 tsp cornflour
2 tsp white wine vinegar
the topping - optional
mixed winter/summer berries, warmed through - or
banana and passion fruit
whipped cream/mascarpone/ice cream - whichever you prefer
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180 C.
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and draw a rough circle of about 25cm using the base of the tin you will use.
Whisk egg whites and salt in a large roomy bowl (spotlessly clean, as egg whites don't like contact with even the slightest trace of any other food substance and they will double in volume) until shiny peaks form.
Beat in the sugar a little at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Sprinkle over the cornflour and vinegar and fold in gently to avoid loosing any of the air you have so carefully added.
Pile the meringue on to the baking sheet within the circle and either swirl to create the shape you like or spread out and smooth the sides.
Put it in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to to gas 2/150 C and cook for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours. By then it will have risen and cracked a litle around the top and the sides. Check that it is dry and crispy on the outside, if not give it a little longer.
Then turn off the oven, open the door and leave to cool completely.
When you are ready to dress the pavlova, you can if your brave enough, invert it on to a large plate and remove the baking parchment. If it's too daunting don't worry about it...just leave it and be aware you will just have to take a little more care when serving to avoid giving your guests a mouthful of paper ! ( Something I have actually done I am afraid )
Once you have chosen your preferred topping you can add as you wish, it is difficult ot get this wrong as it lends itself to going overboard.
Dust liberally with icing sugar...Enjoy

Friday, 1 January 2010

A different Christmas....

For me, Christmas often brings thoughts of my own childhood, so different from my daughters.

Growing up in the North Island of New Zealand ( ' land of the long white cloud' ) means a warm Christmas, traditionally a day for the 'beach'. Not what we chilly northerners know as the beach but huge stretches of soft sand and rolling surf. Food is a similar affair to England even though it's warm, though there are differences due to the temperate climate and it's rich Maori/Polynesian heritage. Seafood is in abundance with the choices different to the U.K. Collecting Pippis, small shellfish encased in a black shell, was a childhood treat after a day on the beach. Once the tide went out they would lay on the sand and we would collect them up and eat them as they were, gritty and salty.
Toheroa was another shellfish common in my childhood,complete with a strange long tongue inside as per the
Maori name.

Pavlova was a staple, adorned with wonderful fruits like fegoa, chinese gooseberries ( kiwi fruit ),tamarillos & passion fruit.
Lamingtons, the ubiquitous sponge covered in chocolate and coconut was a favourite as was 'hokey pokey' icecream, a mix of the best vanilla studded with crunchy, slightly oozing toffee throughout. Next were jaffas, pineapple chunks, buzz bars, all washed down with 'Leeds' lemonade.

I am lucky enough to be able to source some of these things here now. Brighton has a sweet shop in the North Laines
which satisfies my a price and I was so excited to find there is a now a New Zealand restaurant in London,
the chef importing directly from New Zealand, with even a 'hangi' featured on the menu. The traditional Maori way to
cook meat underground.

The menu is a hymn to my past and I know I am going to love it when I finally get there..