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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

You will need sunglasses and a scarf.

Days requiring sunglasses and a scarf always remind me of this far away lady. They epitomise all that is great about Autumn - low light, crisp air, blue skies, twirling leaves, harvest bounties. And, in my opinion, if the weather lottery plays kind and dishes you this happy combination then go and explore, breathe deeply and enjoy. There will be plenty of days like today with rain (or worse still flooding), chill wind and dark, grey skies.

Just over a week ago, we made the most of such a day and headed to the charming Logierait Country Market, just as the weather offered all that is good about Autumn, this market offered all that is good about a Perthshire country market. Excellent produce, happy, friendly people, contented dogs of all sizes, live music, wild flowers on tables, a spinning wheel, free parking (for cars and bikes) and even a narrow gauge railway!

The next and last of the season is October 20th. Go.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

For our friends, in pictures.

We had a brilliant time cooking for, eating with and partying the night away with our friends. Thank you all and thank you E for sleeping like an angel throughout and for being such a sweetheart when you were disturbed as everyone went home for the night. Happy days (and a promise that the Asian beef recipe is coming soon). 

A busy table complete with emergency chairs and a first outing for our new candlesticks purchased here.

To start Mango, radish caprese, basil vinaigrette.

To follow Asian braised beef with hot and sour salad

 or Teriyaki salmon (as preferred).

All the way from Provence.

 To finish Spiced Autumn Pavlova. Complete with audience participation. 
Do look closely to see they're a little light on cream. Mainly because some of our more helpful friends whipped it all over themselves, the kitchen, the oven gloves, the others! I obviously had to rescue the situation (not doing much of a better job myself). La la la.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Menu for our friends from near (ish)

We're very excited to say that we're taking some time off. 

While we love hosting the supper club, we have missed seeing our friends and actually getting to eat more than a taste of the food we prepare. And, there are birthdays to be celebrated. So for the next two weekends, before our Autumn/Winter supper clubs, we plan to rectify this in the most exciting ways. 

Instead of supper club hosting as usual, we are thrilled to be welcoming our dearest friends to party with us; this week those from near and next week those from afar. There will be a table set for feasting and complete with emergency chairs (Olly, is now a good time to ask if we could borrow, all of the dining/desk chairs in your house?), wine chilled, food prepared, party playlist at the ready, balloons, wonderful people and this time, we get to eat as well as serve. Horray. The best way we can think of to celebrate both of our significant birthdays. 

We will eat:

To start 
Mango, radish caprese, basil vinaigrette.

To follow 
Asian braised beef with hot and sour salad.

To finish 
Spiced Autumn Pavlova.

Happy birthdays to us!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Another menu for Team GB {and a birthday girl}, in pictures.

Last night we hosted a supper for friends and a very modest birthday girl (so modest in fact that we didn't even know it was her birthday until her friends mentioned it, just in time for a candle lit brownie)! True to recent form, E decided the party was one she'd much prefer to join than sleep through, finally high fiving and waving goodbye to guests as they departed! Today, one guest remarked that she was "still thinking about it {the food} today" and that made us very happy. And now, we're writing this with the Paralympics Closing Ceremony in the background, feeling rather proud. Here it is, our second menu for Team GB and a birthday girl.

 Herbs for marinating.

 Soda bread for baking.

 Pear chutney bubbling.

 Brownies cooking.

Sweet garden roses.

Delicate lace hydrangea.

 To amuse Hot smoked salmon mousse and Tandoori stuffed mushrooms.

To welcome Sweetcorn soup, truffled popcorn.

To start Pork rillettes, pear chutney, homemade honey and walnut soda bread.

or pear, walnut and blue cheese salad (v).

 To follow Lamb or mint and feta cakes (v) with chilli, pistachio and rose petal sauce, cous cous.

To finish Celebration brownies, strawberry shots and strawberry and black pepper ice cream.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Recipe for walnut and honey soda bread.

Sometimes, guests request our recipes and I often have very good intentions to share them and then, they don't quite make it to the blog. So, here is one which is often requested, if there's another that I've promised and it's never appeared, please leave a comment below to remind me and I'll do my best! Thanks to Edinburgh Cake and 21st Century Urban Housewife for prompting the eventual posting of this one.
Back to the bread, Chris baked these loaves last week and will bake them again in the morning. We have a couple of books from the River Cottage Handbook series and for this he uses handbook three, Bread. 

The recipe is very similar to the one at the link and copied below (for those too lazy to click). 

In terms of our tips, Chris doesn't warm the honey and water, he just adds them together and he finds that 275ml is more than enough water (but see how you find your dough). He also told me to mention that he kneads to a firm dough, not a soft dough as Hugh suggests and tends to make two round loaves from these quantities baking only for 20-25 minutes as that's when the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base and is ready. Be warned, this bread won't last long and there's no danger of it surviving past 24 hours in our house!

Served with duck rillettes and plums last weekend.

Sweet and savoury at the same time, with an incredible depth of flavour, this quick bread is wonderful with cheese. Serves six.
200g walnuts
200g honey
500g wholemeal flour
4 tsp baking powder
10g salt
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6 and lightly oil a baking sheet. Divide the walnuts into two roughly equal piles. Put one half into a food processor or a mortar, then crush to a coarse powder. Using your hands, break the other pile of walnuts into large, rough chunks. Put the honey in a pan with 300ml water and heat gently until the honey dissolves.
Put the flour, baking powder, salt and all the walnuts in a large bowl and combine. Pour in the honey water and mix to a soft dough.
Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface, shape it into a rough, round loaf and place on the oiled baking tray. Slice a deep cross into the top, going almost right the way through to the baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until well risen and golden brown. Remove, set aside to cool and serve immediately - at the very latest, eat within 24 hours. 

The same bread with duck rillettes and rhubarb, earlier this year at a private dinner at Hoscote House.

Another menu for Team GB.

Not long ago, supper clubbers joined us to cheer Mo Farah to glory and to celebrate the success of Team GB at London 2012.  Having sobbed and cheered my way through lots of Paralympic coverage, we're ready to do it again. Our menu has a slightly international feel, journeying to France with the starter,  the Middle East with the main and uniting the best of British berries and indulgent USA for the pudding.

To start
Pork rillettes, pear chutney, homemade honey and walnut soda bread or
pear, walnut and blue cheese salad (v).

To follow
Lamb or mint and feta cakes (v) with chilli, pistachio and rose petal sauce, cous cous.

To finish
Celebration brownies, strawberry shots and strawberry and black pepper ice cream.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

For the changing season (and for Jimmy and Nell), in pictures.

Tonight’s supper saw the very welcome return of friends, cake ladies and a couple of guests new to home supper clubs.

Usually, we begin our evening with a brief introduction to the real Charlie and Evelyn, but this time, they needed no introduction, as the guests were already familiar with the story. Instead, we introduced Chris’s maternal grandparents, James and Ellen (or Jimmy and Nell as they were affectionately known). 

This picture was taken on their wedding day and, like Charlie and Evelyn’s, sits on the mantelpiece in the dining room and watches over our suppers. The reason for a special introduction tonight was that remarkably, today would have been their 73rd wedding anniversary. Something worth sharing and celebrating!

Tonight also broke several records.

First, for range of drinks served from G and T, cocktails, and fizz to cider, wine, coke, milk and water finishing off with “Baileys”! A great opportunity to showcase a good proportion of our glassware collection which brings me to the second record, number of glasses used. Total: 42.

And finally, a new record for Miss E. Tonight was the first supper club that she decided, the party really was too good to miss. How on earth she wasn’t sleeping at midnight is a mystery, surely it means a lie in tomorrow. Surely…

Anyway, enough of the history and the record breaking, here is the food:

To start: Duck rillettes, plums, homemade honey and walnut soda bread.

 To follow: Beef stroganoff, buttered pappardelle, chilli green beans.

 To finish: Baked apple crumble, rhubarb compote, coconut custard.

With coffee: Mini meringues

 Honeycomb truffles.

 E's still awake. How?

Almost midnight, post supper club supper. Left over bread, butter, delicious jam (a greatly appreciated gift from this kind lady who knows what it's like not eating until guests are full) and a cup of tea. 

Please share your thought by leaving us a comment, it will make for a happy Sunday.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

For the last days of summer, in pictures.

After a busy day transforming the house and preparing a feast, we welcomed a group of diners, some from near some from afar, all new to the concept and experience of a home supper club. They discovered us here, here and in Woman and Home magazine (which I don't know if I ever shared on the blog.. hum...). Many told us that they had spent the day explaining to intrigued friends what it was all about. Now they were here to discover for themselves and to celebrate the last days of Summer with us: 

To welcome Armstrong's hot smoked salmon with cucumber.

 Tandoori stuffed button mushrooms.

The table with candlelight and sweet stocks.

 To amuse Sweetcorn soup, truffled popcorn.

To start Scallops, crab, avocado and pink grapefruit.


Wild seabass queueing for the pan! 

 To follow Pan fried seabass, tagliatelle, rocket and basil pesto. 

To finish Last of the Summer puddings - raspberry, basil and clotted cream.

With coffee Petite meringues with mango and chocolate.

And finally, a huge thank you to our invaluable helper, she may have remained invisible to guests but having Granny Scotland on hand to entertain and calm Eva (and give us a head start on the washing up) was magic. We couldn't have done it without you.
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