The Open Door Supper Club -round 1

It's been a week since my first supper club happened and it all seems like a dream now. I was really exhausted the following day but still managed to drag my sleepy head out the door to a foraging workshop in the Phoenix Park, more on that later. Wow...supper club- It does take a lot of work, between cleaning the house, shopping for all the ingredients, cooking... not to mention the washing up!! Thankfully my housemate bought a very, very large plastic basin in which to throw the dirty plates -a highly recommended supper club accompaniment! My brother helped me plate up and serve on the night. A helper is absolutely necessary, a helper and a very, very large plastic basin....And if you're doing one, get the helper to take photos of things too - a few things didn't get snapped before they were devoured, but sure you live and learn!

The order of service......

Fizzy Early
Prosecco & French lemonade with earl grey tea spheres
Nibbly Bits
A selection of sourdough bites to ‘amuse-your-bouche’
Pears & Graces
Red & white chicory boats filled with Wicklow & Cashel Blue cheese, pears, roasted hazelnuts & a quince syrup
Little Bo Peep
Slow cooked lamb shanks with sweet leeks & cannellini beans in a rich tomato sauce, with buttery moist mashed spuds.
Oranges & Lemons
Marmalade ice-cream sandwiches with a cup of lavender & lemon  wibbly wobbly tea
Closing Time Tea
Builders tea, herb teas, espresso or straight up black & a selection of petit fours

I started with a cocktail of Prosecco, French Lemonade & Earl Grey tea spheres. I had recently bought a molecular gastronomy kit & from this I adapted a recipe to create the spheres.

Prosecco, lemonade & earl grey tea spheres

For the nibbly bits I toasted thin pieces of sourdough bread in the oven, with a drizzle of olive oil & a sprinkle of fresh pepper & Maldon salt, on a medium heat until they were really crispy.  I topped them with the following;
Cucumber with a yogurt, tahinni & mint sauce
Guacamole with pomegranate
Buffalo Mozzarella, chili and lemon zest

These were all gone when I thought of the camera -I'll look at the silver lining here!

The starter comprised of chicory boats filled with Wicklow and Cashel Blue cheese, roasted hazelnuts, pear and a quince syrup. I made the quince syrup simply by melting the quince jelly in a pan, with a little bit of water -same way you'd make a jam glaze.

For the main course I braised and slow cooked lamb shanks. To save myself some time I cooked them the day before for. I used a Darina Allen recipe from her brilliant Forgotten Skills cookbook. Here follows the recipe for 4 people.

Braised Lamb Shanks; 
  • Turn oven on to 150'C/Gas 2
  • 4 lamb shanks - any excess fat removed, pierced twice to insert a sliver of garlic & 2/3 needles of rosemary both wrapped in half an anchovy -braise the shanks in olive oil on a hot pan
  • Remove lamb shanks to a casserole dish and add 225g of streaky bacon, I used pancetta -crisp this
  • Add 2 carrots, 2 celery sticks, 1 leek, 1 onion -roughly chopped -allow to brown a little
  • Add 225 ml of decent enough red wine -simmer off the alcohol
  • Add 300ml of chicken stock -I used veg.
  • Add two strips of dried orange peel -I used fresh along with a sprig of thyme, 2 sprigs of rosemary & two bay leaves
  • Pour the veg. & stock mixture in around the shanks and cook for 2-2&1/2 hours
  • In the meantime make your tomato sauce, 110g chopped onions sauteed, only after they have sauteed do you add 1 clove garlic
  • Next add 900g of tomatos -I used passata, 2tbsp of two of the following herbs (thyme, parsley, marjoram, basil, lemon balm) Salt, pepper & a little bit of sugar to taste.Cook for 30 mins on a low- heat with the lid on.
  • When the lamb is ready, add a tin of cannellini beans to the tomato sauce and add to the casserole dish -cook for a further 45-60mins

I served the shanks with 'oxymoron' spuds -fluffy, buttery mashed potato....yummy!
Dessert was to have the most 'play' on my little Victorian twist - but what to do? Afternoon tea was born in the Victorian era. I knew I wanted to make marmalade ice cream, as my brother had made some lovely marmalade a few weeks back. But I couldn't decide how to serve it and what to serve it with. Eventually I settled on marmalade ice cream sandwiches, using shortbread and a fragrant jelly, served in tea cups. I used Jamie Olivers' shortbread recipe.

  • Oven to 150'C/Gas 2 note- this makes a large quantity of dough.
  • Cream 250g butter & 125g of caster sugar, I used icing sugar as it's easier when you don't have a food processor like moi! 
  • Add 250g of plain flour & 125g of semolina or cornflour -I used cornflour
  • I rolled them out on a floured surface & cut out the right sized square for me, place on a non-stick baking tray, prick with a fork -bake for 15 mins or until golden
  • I had dough left over -so I put some lavender flowers in & cut out small star shapes for petit fours, cook for less time, 10 mins, depending on your oven.

Basic Custard Ice-Cream;
  • Serves 5
  • 200ml milk & 200ml of cream -into a sauce pan & scald them, this means waiting for bubbles to appear on the sides but not 'boiling' the mixture.
  • Take two egg yolks to which you add 50g icing sugar
  • Very slowly add the hot milky cream to the egg mixture -stirring with a whisk all the time
  • When all mixed together, put back on a low-ish heat and stay with it, stirring constantly, until the custard has formed -you know this has happened when the mixture thickens enough so that it coats the back of your wooden spoon.
  • Now remove from the heat & allow to cool. Speed this up by transfering to a glass bowl or another container and when most of the heat is gone put it into the fridge to chill. This helps when you put it into your ice-cream maker.
  • Pour into your ice-cream maker, when it's finished in there scoop about 3 dstp of marmalade in & place in your freezer.
  • If you want to make a vanilla custard, take a vanilla pod, slice it and scrape the seeds out, put the seeds into the cream & milk, along with the pod and scald it. Once you've made the custard pass it through a sieve to remove the pod and any bits of cooked  egg.
  • After 2/3 hours & intermittent stirring, I popped the mixture into a well washed juice carton.This was to be my mould, I wrapped it in cling film & put it back into the freezer for the night.
Lavender & Lemon Wibbly Wobbly Tea;
  • Fills 10 tea cups
  • Take 10 cups of water, 10 tsp dried lavender flowers, 12 tsp caster sugar, juice of 5 bergamot lemons & 2 regular lemons (6 regular if you can't get bergamot) place in a saucepan.
  • Allow the mixture to reach a simmer so that the lavender infuses, leave to cool and strain out the bits 'n' pieces.
  • Sprinkle over 12 tbsp of agar-agar flakes (Japanese setting agent -available in health food shops and food specialist shops)
  • Give a quick whisk at the beginning, then wait until it starts to simmer & whisk for about 3 mins. Or as per packet instructions.
  • Pour into moulds & allow to cool, refrigerate over night.

I had some lemon curd which I swirled through whipped cream & blobbed on top to serve.

For the petit fours I used my lavender shortbread, leaving some as they were but half dipping the rest in dark chocolate. It's a really great combination & I would definitely recommend the biscuits as a gift for someone. I also made truffles, my friend had given me a bar of Seed & Bean coconut raspberry chocolate so I used that -although the flavours were very subtle so I wouldn't use that particular bar for that purpose again. But to eat alone -very nice!

So the first one is done and dusted. It was exhausting, exciting and eye opening. Will i do it again ? For sure!