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Announcing my first supper club of 2015!

Orthodox Greek Feasting Menu

Clapham, London

Sunday 25th January

I thought I was done with supper clubs but it turns out that all I needed was a little inspiration. Having nearly, but not quite, made it to Athens to see the January Christmas festivities (Orthodox Calendar etc), so instead, I would love to invite everyone back to Clapham for a Christmas Greek Orthodox Supperclub evening on Sunday January 25th .

The Menu will be based a traditional Greek Christmas Feasting Menu (yes I’m aware that January 25th is way after the Greek Orthodox Christmas but why let pedantry get in the way of a good idea).

Please come along with your best Christmas jumpers, an empty, freshly detoxed, stomach and, as always, a bottle of whatever tickles your fancy.

Proposed menu is below, and in keeping with tradition (mine, not Christmas), seats are still limited to twelve so let me know if you or any friends would like to come to:

Closer to the time I’ll send out details of the address in Clapham and the full menu with intermediary courses included. Doors open at 6pm with an aperitif and nibbles provided before dinner. Dinner starts at 6.30pm prompt and the suggested donation for the evening is £30. As ever, the emphasis is on good food and good company so please come along willing to make new friends, if only for the evening. It is Christmas, afterall :-)

Christmas in January
Sunday 25th January

Proposed menu is as follows:


Homemade saffron bread and pine nut pesto, topped with fresh cheese, honey and praline



7 hour stuffed lamb wrapped in grape leaves served lemon butter potato and spun aubergine


Goat’s curd filo, baked pearl onions and spiced aubergine crisps



Poached quince, cinnamon syrup, walnut ice-cream and a filo custard square

Additional intermediary courses will be served on the night, so please let me know about any dietary issues or allergies.

Places for 12

Places for 12

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Thursday 13 November to Saturday 15 November

The Happy Coconut is a Malaysian pop-up restaurant scheduled for one weekend only!
If you’ve been to the Home from Home supperclubs then you’ll be aware that this is a long anticipated (for me) pop-up cooking a selection of Malaysian dishes close to my heart.

All our dishes are wheat-free and nearly all are gluten free, because we’ve stayed true to the traditional ingredients of Malaysian. We’ve kept the menu limited to ensure that the food is good but let us know what you think on Twitter: @Cooksmiths:

Proposed Menu
Thursday 13 November to Saturday 15 November

the Dipping course
Small plates to dip and share between friends, or to keep all for yourself
– Rice paper parcels of Asian greens with a warm coconut lime dip £5
– A selection of soy marinated chicken served with fresh satay sauce £5.60

the Laksa course
Malaysia’s world famous coconut noodle soup loved by millions, and made in our signature style
– Classic laksa with roast chicken, prawns and cockles, served with a side of our house chilli sambal £11
– Aromatic laksa with ginger, aubergine and green bean, served with a side of our house chilli sambal £9.50

the Happy course
A perfect balance of sweetness and richness as only the Malaysians know how
– Coconut cheesecake with poached caramel peanuts £5
– Hot Chocolate-Milo pudding with condensed milk ice-cream £5 (contains barley)
Stovetop masala chai – £2
Mulled ginger beer – £2
Tamarind and sugarcane rum punch – £5
Beer and wine, chosen to match the flavours will also be available on the night
Menu and prices are indicative, minor adjustments may be needed on the night.

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Tale of two birthdays – continued

Tale of two birthdays – continued
I love birthdays. Birthdays are the best excuse for making cake that I know. And it’s like bottling happiness. Presenting to people a birthday cake that you made for them, is like popping the cork to the bottle, it’s the most surefire way of making people happy. The last time I made my mum smile is when I made her a birthday cake.

Making food for birthdays also gives you the excuse to go the extra mile. You’re not going to spend the day making a cake just for anyone or for any day. But when it’s a good friend and it’s their birthday , then there’s something rather satisfying about spending all day in the kitchen making something special for them, even if it does get gobbled up as the same time it takes you to eat your evening tea.

It’s perhaps of a discipline thing? In fact, the reality is that like I can’t be bothered to spend my Sunday stuck in the kitchen unless the weight of expectation bears down on me?
It was only last month that I discovered that the weight of expectation that bears down the heaviest, when it is that of your own birthday and moreover, of all the guests you’ve invited, have one way or other endured many of the burdens associated with all the supperclubs and practice dinners that you’ve put on.

So my birthday… I had the same idea as for Freddie’s. I wanted to be a guest not a cook and although I wanted to make something delicious for the party, I didn’t want anything as formal as a supperclub. SO I figured a DIY BBQ where people help themselves to salads and cook their own meat as they want it would be the perfect solution.
And Terry helped, that much must be admitted, so all the work of putting together six salads was reduced into something manageable, enjoyable so. And when nobody actually did grasp the DIY nature of the BBQ, Terry took up the role of head chef at the BBQ and got to work feeding the masses. He also had a pervasive influence over the theme of the food on offer, which mostly ended up being Thai, with Red curry sausages that we made ourselves, lemongrass pork patties, chicken wing satay on the BBQ, and salads like mango and noodle, edamame and coconut, Thai basil potato salad etc. Don’t ask me how it happened – there was no explicit request or suggestion but probably just enthusiastic agreement to any vaguely Thai suggestion that I made.

5 Salads and BBQ Pizza toppings are ready to go...

5 Salads and BBQ Pizza toppings are ready to go…

Having sorted out the food element, next year I might focus on the fun element. At times it did feel like I was just running a soup kitchen.
Birthday 2 Birthday 3

Birthday 4

I did eventually get round to enjoying my birthday – pub at the end of the day helped out with that. Each year the lesson is the same. Don’t cook for your own birthday- and each year I forget. So until next year guys. x

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Tale of two birthdays

So not very long ago, a good friend asked me to cater for his birthday: Freddie, who of course is widely remembered for his star front of house turn at a few of my supperclub dinners, and who along with a few other friends, working super- (semi) professionally to put all the food on the plate and get it all served to the guests piping hot.

What they lacked in experience they made up in personality! I think. But anyway, its probably not for me to harp on about lack of experience…

So I was not only flattered but rather obliged when Freddie suggested that I help him out with dinner. The whole set-up was rather different from the supperclubs that I’d managed previously. For one, it was more akin to an casual summer BBQ than anything as formal as the 6 course + petit fours supper club that I’ve done before. Secondly I was a guest so I’d be damned if I was going to follow the format of the supperclubs which see me working and clearing up to 1am.

So this time I took inspiration from an old time favourite – Ottelenghi who more than any one I see as writing great recipes for party food. I remember seeing a recipe of Ottelenghi’s, placing a large serving bowl of quail for everyone to tuck into and tear apart with their fingers which I thought would be fantastic for Freddie’s birthday. Only proviso being that the event was really more of an English summer garden party (with perhaps more booze and a little less decorum ) so I wanted to stay true to that style of event and Ottelenghi’s quail recipe was too Middle Eastern to work. So instead I roasted it off for 12 minutes with a lovely brown sugar and mustard glaze and piled them high as you like in a bowl topped with crispy streaky bacon, dressed asparagus, spiced walnuts (which due to the comments they received a special shout out has to go to the Martha Stewart Recipe I used) and a fantastically sharp sorrel sauce which usually goes with cod but worked brilliant to lighten and freshen the roast quail. Disclaimer: some of these photos are taken on my blackberry others on an iPhone (I’ll leave you guess which is which). Suffice to say: Blackberry, you need to sort it out…

Quail with sorrel sauce

Quail with sorrel sauce

Finger food

Finger food

I won’t go into the palaver that went into us scaling down the planned hog roast to a joint in the oven. To be fair “joint” doesn’t do it justice, it was like a Jurassic sized femur of hog which could have fed the fifteen of us, eight times over (so I’ll leave to you to guess why we decided against the whole hog roast). I will say with pride however, that I dealt with this change of plan quite admirable and after scoring the skin, I poured boiling water over the scores and salted it in a way that Delia Smith would have been quite satisfied. And with these simple actions and an 8 hour slow roast in the oven, there was a quite delectable main fit for any fancy restaurant and even one of my supperclubs. Salads were entirely courtesy of Ottelenghi’s recipes, I and 14 others can vouch that the new potato pesto salad (half the basil replaced with parsley) and the roast cauliflower salad recipes (without the raisins which was one of those pesky ingredients in the recipe detracting from my “English summer” theme) are really rather good.
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Hog roast with two Ottolenghi salads

Hog roast with two Ottolenghi salads

Main 3

In fact given the praise that the main got, and the genuine simplicity of putting it together, I couldn’t help wondering why people ate out at so much. Dessert was the piece de resistance and something I was both delighted with and slightly disappointed with at the same time. A few months on, I can barely remember the anxiety I suffered about the dessert. I wanted the dessert to share the same sharing characteristics of the starter and main, and like the prior two courses I wanted there to a spectacle to it- to contribute to this idea of celebrating – banqueting if you like. The tower of quails and the enormous joint of meat was an easy way to create that spectacle without too much effort but my ideas for super-visual desserts weren’t getting very far beyond meringues, multi-tiered cakes and other ideas that involved more effort and time than I was able to give. And then I hit (quite literally, albeit in an Internet Explorer sense) upon the glow in the dark jelly!

A truly brilliant creation which relies simply on the chemical in Indian Tonic Water – Quinine. And from that it came together, glow in the dark Gin and Tonic jelly, lemon drizzle cake and lemon mint ice-cream – jelly, cake and ice-cream. The stress, and when I say stress, I mean the kind of thing that keeps you awake at night came from the damn castle shaped jelly mould that I wanted to use (and had made Freddie buy). I tried the jelly in multi-coloured layers, the turrets slid off. I tried the jelly as a single layer, the turrets fell off. It tasted lovely but looked a mess. So I took the hard decision to add more gelatine (which from a purist’s perspective is not ideal, as the texture of jelly is said to be best with as little gelatine as is needed) and lower the sugar content. I also ended up buying two further moulds as back-ups and making three times the jelly mix I needed to fill each of them. Thank god for Freddie’s three fridges. So prior to the point of demoulding Freddie’s jelly, after two successful courses, I had not yet experienced a successful demould. So what happened? This:
Dessert 1.5Dessert 2

Dessert 4

It did look amazing and its wonderful to get that reaction from people, especially when they haven’t even eaten it yet! Although maybe that was for the best, I think flavourwise, the reduction in sugar regrettably made the jelly less tasty than all my messy practise jellies. And I’m not even sure that I really needed to reduce the sugar content to stabilise the jelly. Interestingly however, I couldn’t really feel the presence of the extra gelatine so all that worry over nothing. So all in all, it was a lovely evening. It wasn’t all about the food of course and Freddie put lots of thought into the whole evening so I’m definitely glad I decided to prioritise my role as partygoer over that of cook. Thanks Freddie for asking me to do this and I hope you had a good time Xxx
Dessert 3

But – this is a tale of two birthdays and so the story is not yet over…

The next birthday was my own.

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Here’s how it all turned out…

So with my customary lateness, I can announce that the Christmas market stall is over, and I sold 40 out of 45 portions of Guinness Lamb.  And here’s what I learnt:

7 Shoulders of lamb will give you 50 portions of lamb at a push, not 70 portions

A student Xmas market is not the place to sell gourmet food – you know when the chorizo sausage in a bun is outselling you 3 to 1- you got your audience wrong

The potato layer cake is the way to go, the sourdough trencher (while delicious if someone had actually tried to order it), is not the way to go.

The mulled gingerbeer is a keeper, it hardly sold at all at lunchtime but after lunch, it was all anyone wanted. If I hadn’t drunk such copious quantities of it during lunch I could have probably sold all 50 portions of it.

The food was good, I liked it, customers liked it, and some even came back for seconds. I just need to find the right market for it. Maltby St? Whitecross St? Leather Lane maybe?

I need a stronger glue to stick the “COOKSMITH” letters onto my sign. “O” was the first letter to fall. But it wasn’t the last… Yes, I know what it spells – I had it pointed out several times – its not that funny actually.


Also, the week after I did my own personal test of bbqing a brined lamb shoulder and an unbrined lamb shoulder. I was hoping to discover that there wasn’t a difference (as brining is a bit of a faff) but unfortunately, the brined meat  is noticeably more moist, and seasoned throughout. So looks like I’ll stick to brining.

That’s all folks. That’s what I learnt. That -and the art of brevity.



Anyway I’m in Paris at the moment, holidaying and staging at a few restaurants. But I’m keen to get going again once I get back to London. Happy belated New Year everyone!


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Cooksmith’s First Christmas Market Stall (first lots of things actually)

Things are finally getting into gear for my market stall. Well given that the stall is tomorrow and involves a 6am start – today had to be the “gearing up” day.

I’ve written up a timetable of everything I need to do and the strange thing is that cooking doesn’t cover too much of it.  Partly because some of the cooking will be done on site but also because it appears that running a market stall requires lots of trips to the wholesalers to pick up things you were hoping you didn’t need. It involves a lot of spending money and adding up numbers that end in minus numbers. The adding up bit is a particularly time-consuming task because the concluding minus numbers propel you to recalculate endlessly, over and over again amending the figure until you work out that the most financially viable option is deleting all the numbers in your spread sheet, because  nothing is better than less than nothing. Hmmm new motto?

Well but obviously not, I really want to do this. This is the closest thing I’m doing to the thing I want to do so this is exciting.  And I guess nerves are inevitable. And nerves are good? Its nerves that have sent me to Smithfield’s twice this week to buy fresh meat, nerves that have dictated I throw two separate dinners for friends so that they can try out my market offerings and give me feedback and its nerves that have encouraged me to eat variations on lamb everyday this week. So hopefully these nerves will make this stall work as best it can.

Having gone through various menu options with the odd two dozen people or so, tomorrow’s market menu will be as follows:

Midwinter lamb braised in stout served with a:

–          Sourdough trencher with lashings of garlic parsley butter topped with caramelised onions;


–          Soft and crispy potato layer cake with braised gem lettuce.

Each £6.50

Mulled ginger beer spiced with whole cloves and orange peel – £2


Anyway, would love to blog but things to do. See you tomorrow!

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Last Supperclub of 2013

It feels like a good time to have held the last supperclub. Not the last supperclub ever, obviously. Hopefully. But certainly for the year and with no future dates in the pipeline, it’s a nice chance to stretch my limbs (quite literally, 4 months of hectic cooking have left me with all kinds of aches and pains) and do a little cooking for myself and friends in the run-up to Christmas. Which allows me to think about what I would like to try to make instead of choosing dishes with a constant eye on the next supperclub’s theme (fun at first but it gets frustrating).

So this month’s last supperclub of 2013 was all about the USA, which I was pleased to do. So far most of my supperclubs have been European in focus with the Mexican supperclub being the only exception and while I’ve toyed with the idea of cooking something from further afield I simply don’t have a mental database of tried and tested recipes in the way that I do with European styles of cuisine. Doing “Thanksgiving themed” food was an enjoyable compromise which let me exploit the variety of produce and styles which are associated with the US while remaining rooted in  European culinary tradition. From corn to lime and coconut, onion rings to savoury mousses, doughnuts to soufflés.

I also had fun with this US bonanza because although the USA is full of deliciously tasty food, it was challenging to make all this deep fried gloriousness into something refined. I got to make marshmallows, fudge, peanut brittle, red velvet cake, fried turkey, turkey mousse, chilli cornbread. All the random stuff that I’ve always wanted to try. And try I did (and sometimes try again, and again).


I’m also glad it’s the last supperclub for a while because my photo taking has gotten progressively worse and worse. This month it got so bad, I didn’t even bring a camera and so the only photos to grace your eyes will be slightly blurry ones taken swiftly via a camaraphone while plating the food. However, as usual, my friends didn’t fail me – for this supperclub, I had help from my favourite supperclub regulars – Freddie and Gabriele as well as a new recruit, Terry. Everyone survived into the next day, all looking a little more haggard than before, but I’d put that down to the round of beers that finished off the evening.

First up was a selection of fresh baked buttermilk biscuits with 4 kinds of butter. I put my smoker to good use again and smoked some butter.

Smoking chocolate

I also made pecan nut butter, a honey butter and a chicken butter (made with my chicken stock which I reduced down to a lovely wobbly jelly). The nice thing about these butters is that I had to whip the flavour into the butters which gave also it a lovely airy consistency.  I also made two kinds of buttermilk biscuits – one looked quite scone-like and was made with half self-raising and half plain flour and the other was made with all plain flour and had the appearance of a rich savoury shortbread. Its astonishing the difference just the use of different flours make to the finished product.

Next course was the official starter, a medley of sweet potato dishes.  Sweet potato in the USA is often called yam but changes it after having to “correct” people on numerous prior occasions to explain that I didn’t mean the fibrous African white root but the yummy orange potato served as wedges in gastropubs throughout the kingdom.  The selection of sweet potato served was: a maple syrup and pecan sweet potato gratin, a sweet potato cinnamon tarte fine, a choux doughnut with a sweet potato cream cheese filling, garnished with some gigantic onion and sweet potato rings… A lot on the plate. Thankfully one can never have too much sweet potato.

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The next course was the pre-main and a sweet corn chowder.  Sweet corn has a wonderfully sweet flavour and has a lovely fragrance if you don’t cook it too much. The trick is to avoid that unpleasant starchiness that can come through from undercooking it (like you might have from raw potato). This chowder was indirectly heated through a bain-marie to warm it through and prevent its more starchy qualities. It’s a thin line but the soup is worth the trouble to make I think – a lovely sweet subtle flavour – garnished with some chilli cornbread croutons  to give it that much needed kick.

Onto the main. In terms of timing, the main course verged on disaster. For me anyway. It was a friendly crowd that evening and people were pretty sated after three courses and happy to chat so either through politeness or genuinely unconcerned, nobody seemed to notice the passing of over 40 minutes between the collecting the third course and serving the main. I, on the other-hand, was poking my head in the oven on an almost constant basis so I’m surprised my hairline didn’t cook through faster than the damn turkey mousses.  Everyone helping out with service was wonderful in remaining nonplussed/unbothered throughout and just getting on with the tasks at hand. So when the main course finally made its way to the table, I was puffed up with relief and pride. The vegetarian pumpkin soufflés lagged even further behind, requiring rather selfishly, sole use of the oven to bake and while I was anxiously eyeballing the oven door at this point, they rose and had a lovely custardy middle so all is forgiven.

Then it was a race to the end. Or at least it should be. Format of the supperclub always seems to be that frantic tension culminates at service of the main course and after that there’s a moment of calm because at least with desserts, nothing is made just for service. The tart had been made earlier that morning, the ice-creams the day before, marshmallows and lime sweets has been made the weekend before. So it should be simple matter of plating and serving.

And in fact that’s all it was. Red-velvet ice-cream, scooped and served without issue. Beers were already out in the kitchen, dessert plates in the fridge.

In fact the kitchen was so chilled that I got Gabriele and Freddie to start plating the million components to the “lime and coconut” salad: coconut marshmallow, confit lime rind, confit lime syrup, peanut brittle, crystallised mint leaves, preserved coconut, shavings of fresh coconut, fresh raspberries and coconut tuille. I have to say they made it look beautiful, they were vehicles of incredible precision that I’ve never attributed to them in real non-kitchen life. It looked like they’ve been waiting their whole lives to plate a dessert salad and now they had 12 to plate, it was Art on a plate.

To do justice to this salad, I planned to add a slice of coconut tart topped with a wobbly just set curd. If “wobbly just set” didn’t sound like a dangerous ambition to  me at the time (and it didn’t), it sure does now. Because the lime curd, as lovely as it tasted, collapsed on slicing and sauced itself around the tart and on the plate and edged messily close to Gabriele’s and Freddie’s plate art. Perfectly acceptable if the tart had been of the “self-saucing” variety (which is all the rage now, possibly) but inexcusable for those of the “wobbly , just set” category. Anyway, it does make me think I should write the menu in chalk not ink?

And so it ended. But not quite on that abysmal note. The petit fours came out and this month I made an effort to temper the chocolate which coated the truffles so that people could take them away with them if they were too full. Except this time I must have portioned better because most guests were happy enough off the petit fours there and then.

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So a rollercoaster ride through four supperclubs which has seen my pacing and portioning get better. It’s seen me get calmer and , while I’ve always over-prepared for these evenings, I do prepare with less stress and anxiety with each new supperclub that rolls round. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot about how to operate something on a slightly  bigger scale and given me a taste of “service” (which is hard to experience if you don’t work in a restaurant). But I think next year, if I come back, I’ll come back with something slightly different.

Ed (who’s flat I hold the supperclub in) and I were discussing whether the scale of the flat would be suitable for a pop-up restaurant. Set menu of three courses and 30 covers. And something that attempts to financially viable. Now that sounds like a new challenge :-)

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Finalised Thanksgiving Menu for 24 November

Sorry for the late posting. For posterity then:


24 November 2013


Buttermilk Biscuits with a selection of smoked, honey, pecan and chicken butters


Medley of Sweet Potato

Maple Syrup Gratin, Tarte Fine, Doughnut and Onion/Sweet Potato Rings


Corn Chowder with Chilli Cornbread Croutons


Confit Fried Turkey and Mousse OR  Lousianna Pumpkin Soufflé

served cranberry chutney, mac n’ cheese, and green collard


Red Velvet Cake Ice-cream


Key Lime and Coconut Pie served with a Peanut Ice-cream and a Lime Coconut Salad


Peanut Butter Truffle, Grapefruit Truffle, Terry’s Malt Fudge, Californian Raisin Fudge

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Thanksgiving Menu for 24 November Supperclub (moved from 17 November)

The next supperclub will be on Sunday 24 November starting at 6pm. I had previously advertised the date as 17 November but the date didn’t work out so the supperclub will be held a week later instead.


There are just 10 spaces available and a maximum allocation of three tickets per person! There is a suggested donation £30 and BYO (I’m more than happy as always, to give suggestions for those that care about what wine to pair up the food with).

 Please contact me on to make any reservations.

Proposed Thanksgiving Menu is as follows:


Three Ways Yam


Confit Turkey Leg  – or –  Louisiana Pumpkin Souffle

served with mac ‘n cheese, spicy collard greens and cranberry jus


Coconut Lime Tart, Peanut ice-cream, Coconut and Lime Salad

Extra intermediary courses will be served on the night, so please let me know about any dietary issues or allergies.

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October Supperclub – Done and Dusted

I’ve been so looking forward to and dreading an Italian themed supperclub. It was an evening that I had planned from the beginning and even my inability to come up with a snappy title to the October supperclub (Autumn in Italy) had no power to deter me. And so indeed, for most of September all my life skills were put to use to engage in the skilful uncertain art of macaron mastery, pasta making and artichoke preparation.


With the October supperclub over, I’m still learning so much!  I’ve learnt that there is no amount sinfully ugly pasta that can’t be made right with a heavy covering of crispy sage leaves and Parma ham, and that nobody expects risotto to look like a work of art (which is good because it does have poor asthetic qualities – although excellent qualities in the eating :-)).

Preparations started early for this supperclub because preparation included practice. Ill-advised friends came over to my once a lifetime Pasta Party, where I was planning on making three kind of filled pasta but by the end of the evening I had to send them away having only had a mere three raviolis per person. Well, I’d cut up some spaghetti as a fallback so it wasn’t quite that bad…


Macarons were the next hurdle. What a hurdle, I’ve made French macarons before but never made them using the Italian meringue method which seemed more appropriate for this supperclub. Four batches of baked macaron were baked before any standard of competence was attained. Its somewhat typical that having gone to extraordinary efforts to get the perfect macaron, I didn’t actually take a photo of the macaron filled and trembling on a plate in its chocolate chestnut glory.



My happy self-satisfaction is expressed with the proviso that I haven’t read the feedback forms yet… Bad I know, but for some reason, this month I’m extra nervous, probably because this was the calmest and least stressful month of preparation.  I had a better idea of how to approach it with two supperclubs already done and I knew that I could make the pasta and the gnocci and freeze it. I made my petit fours in advance, the sweet pastry was made the week before, the tart lined and frozen, the ice-cream similarly made the week before. The pork cheeks slow cooked and nestling in its gravy by Saturday morning so come Saturday evening, with the mountain of artichokes having been just overcome, it might have been 2am at that point but I felt ready! And the Sundaybevening seemed to go smoothly. We served dessert at 10pm which was bang on schedule!

We had an earlier start time of 6pm with Rosemary Bellini with caponata gnocchi nibbles on the roof terrace.


The first sit down course was an amuse buche (served closer to 7 to be honest…) was crispy artichoke stuffed with mint and dill fava beans. I garnished this with an orange zest mayonnaise and some crispy garlic. I didn’t salt the artichoke before placing on the plate and although nobody mentioned this on the evening, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few people picked up on that in the feedback forms. I’ll let you know!


The pasta course was sweet potato agnolotti with sage butter. Sage butter is a classic accompaniment and it was a good companion to the sweetness of the filling. Topped with Parma Ham and crispy sage, I can only point to the extraordinary opaque virtues of these toppings which prevented anyone from noticing the raggediness of the pasta submerged within.

Cauliflower risotto was next on the menu and my least pretty plate. Slop in a bowl and covered in breadcrumbs just about covers it but it got some excellent reviews. Which left me wondering if the substantial time and effort spent on ganishing and beautifying the plates of my other dishes was entirely unnecessary? A conundrum…

Main was pig’s cheeks with Tuscan bean stew, Cavolo Nero and Mushroom Ragu. I was torn between giving one cheek or two but caved in and served two cheeks. I was glad to see that the mains were polished off but I think the full tummies took their toll by the time dessert was served…



Oreo cookies were next and again no pictures of the finished article. But they were cute although not like Oreos at all. It was Thomas Keller’s recipe which basically sandwiches chocolate shortbread together with a white chocolate ganache.

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Dessert was a chestnut and quince tart with the chestnut macaron and a chocolate hazelnut ice-cream. I was already confident with the macarons and the ice-cream. You know a good thing when you’ve made it and I was simply glad to have extra stashes of the stuff in the freezer at home, and everyone did perk up with the ice-cream with nobody thankfully saying that it tasted like Nutella (which is good because it doesn’t!).


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Get those petit fours out was a good moment. Official finish time of…uhm 10.15pm say? Approximately anyway.

October Petit Fours

I could say Freddie and Gabriele were model waiters but in fact they were entirely unlike model waiters but more like eccentric hard working friends doing me a favour for the evening, and all the guests commented on how lovely and friendly they were. They were super helpful in the kitchen and I suppose some part of my new found timeliness might be due to their efforts too… Certainly they were a good part of the reason that I felt so relaxed that evening.


So thanks to them and Ed, and everyone else for coming!

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