Last week was La’s 30th so Cousin Sam arranged a surprise (she detested the secrecy.) 1920’s inspired Supper Club/Speakeasy here at the studio for some of her closest friends……..
Kay and I went to Hoo Hing (chinese supermarket) and picked up the dragon you see here, (That’s the best £18 ever spent!) and lots of Chinese lanterns (mega cheap) to hang through the space with baby ones to decorate the table.
Every red pom pom sat on a cup with a fortune cookie in it. Daniel and Kay’s thinking.
Kay designed the beautiful invite, menu and place cards……..and folded the napkins as her nan had taught her in a fan……She’s off to Sweden you know!
Daniel projected films of mesmeric 1920’s formation dancing through the studio and cleverly arranged for 2 dance instructors to come after dinner to give Jive lessons. (yes we know Jive’s not 1920’s, but it was cool though!)
Jim and I thought up and cooked up the menu (See below) between us and Sam did everything else, including getting very, very nervous…..La was genuinely surprised…..We all had a ball……
Due to Prohibition alcohol was often served hidden in tea pots and cups. (and pipes and radiators!)……..But in spite of this Prohibition, people drank more than ever. (Love that!) Cocktails became very popular, (partly to cover up the awful taste of the homemade brews!) with an expanding affluent society, and it’s in this time that some of our most well known cocktails were invented. (I didn’t know that.) Bathtub Gin was actually lethal and some people actually died drinking it. It was just made of whatever nasty homemade brew available, with anything they could think of to cover up the flavour…….Jim also discovered that Chinese food was very popular in the 1920’s…….and Fishfingers were invented in the 1920’s…….
The menu………and recipes……
……..Bathtub Gin – I made a potent, though not quite lethal, (though Sam may disagree with me on that!) wonderfully sweet and sour Long Island Iced Tea……..served in tea cups…….We called it Moonshine at New Year…..Careful!.
Mushroom Caviar – An intense puree made with really well cooked mushrooms and dark, black dried olives . Serve a bowl on a tray with sour cream, and preferably some toasted chopped walnuts on top. Serve with Spelt Soda Bread…..Cut large cubes from a loaf, homemade spelt soda bread, (Recipe below). I added a little treacle to the dough and it gives it a rich nuttiness. Also some black Rye, (from Panzers) sour cream and toasted walnuts. Forgot the walnuts, but I think I scattered with some chopped pistachios instead.
Posh Fishfingers with Chinese Plum Sauce and Deepfried Seaweed. – Jim’s winner dish of a posh fish finger. It’s made by rolling out a slice of bread, placing a strip of cod along it’s length and rolling up like a fat cigar. Fried in butter with his own homemade plum sauce and seaweed along side, I wanted more.
Bourbon and Coke Granita – Flufffy, icy concoction, as La quite likes a JD & Coke.
Smoked Haddock, Clam and Corn Chowder with Caviar and Poppy Seed Crackers – One of the most delicious and satisfying soups/stew recipe I know. The caviar is a cheats caviar (about £6 for a little jar at Fin and Flounder on Broadway market. (Personable lovely fish mongers.) made of herring roe and I do love it for this recipe. Just a tiny spoonful placed on top the soup, just when you are about to serve. Then you let it roll down and swim across the surface of the soup. It’s worth making the crackers (Crackers are traditionally served with chowder.) if you get time. Otherwise there’s some in Waitrose called Yes Crackers I think….can’t find them…. The best texture would be the something lighter than a cream cracker.
Waldorf Salad – Jim was gonna make this, but he never got his chance…….
Pineapple Upside Down Cake (invented in 1920’s) with homemade Vanilla Ice-cream I ate some of Jims cake the next day for breakfast and although it was fridge cold it had a gorgeous puddingy texture. Yum indeed. Oh yea and his toffee icecream is like eating frozen (yet soft) toffee. I could get addicted.
The recipes……Jim is about to blog about his own experience of the day. http://trailofourbread.blogspot.com/and I’m guessing he’ll put his own recipes up on there………….Here’s mine….
Gin…… My favourite spirit of all time.
1.5 kg sugar
1 litre water
Tip sugar into a very large pan. Pour in the water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Leave to cool.
1 bottle gin
1 bottle vodka
1 bottle tequila
1 bottle white rum
1 bottle cointreau
16-20 lemons. (was it 16 Sam?)
Stir all the spirits into the sugar syrup. Squeeze the juice from 16 of the lemons and stir in. Taste. do you need more juice?
Serve in tea cups, over ice , topped with coke. Yep, yet again full fat coke! and remind everyone to add the coke. People don’t realise and get wasted, way before time otherwise.
Smoked Haddock, Clam, Corn and Leek Chowder with Cheat’s Caviar and Poppy Seed Crackers
900 g undyed smoked haddock
500 ml milk
500 ml water
2 bay leaves
750 g clams, (about 30 clams) washed well
pinch saffron strands
2 large leeks
100 g Pancetta or streaky bacon
50 g butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
500 g potatoes
4 whole cobs of corn
500 ml single cream
1 bunch of watercress
small bunch Parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the crackers
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
250 g plain flour
1 pinch chilli powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
25 g butter
150 ml pint milk
sea salt flakes
To make the poppy seed crackers, place the poppy seeds in a spice or coffee grinder and grind until fine. (alternatively grind in a pestle and mortar) Sieve the flour, chilli powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter cut into small pieces and rub into the flour mixture and rub together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the ground poppy seeds.
Slowly add the milk until it forms a soft but firm dough. Divide the dough in half and roll out each piece to a large rectangle. 40 x 30 cm / Trim the edges and transfer each piece to a lightly greased baking sheet. Score the surface into 5 cm / 2 inch squares. Sprinkle with a few sea salt flakes and bake in a preheated oven 200 C / 400 F / Gas 6 for 6-8 minutes until lightly golden.
Remove from the oven and with a palette knife turn the pieces of dough over and return to the oven for a further 5-6 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Break the crackers apart.
Place the haddock skin side up in a shallow pan and pour over the milk and water to cover. Add the bay leaves, bring to just below boiling point, reduce heat and poach gently for about 5-8 minutes or until just cooked. Add the clams in the last couple of minutes and cook until just opening. Lift fish and clams into a sieve set over a bowl and leave to cool. Strain the remaining milk in the pan through a fine sieve into a bowl. Stir in the saffron and reserve.
Slice the leeks thinly and wash very well to remove any dirt, then drain. Cut the bacon into little cubes and chop the onion. Cut the kernels from the corn cobs.
Melt the butter over a low to medium heat, add the bacon and cook for about 5 minutes or until just starting to get crispy. Add the chopped onion and leeks and sauté gently for 5-10 minutes until softened. Add the flour and cook stirring for 1-2 minutes without colouring. Stir in a little milk until smooth then add the remainder. (including the milk from under the fish.)
Peel and cube the potatoes and add to the pot with the corn kernels and simmer for 8-10 minutes until both are tender. Remove the haddock form it’s skin and break into large flakes, removing any bones. Chop the parsley and roughly chop the watercress and stir into the pot with the cream. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper and top each bowl with a couple of teaspoons of the roe and serve with the crackers.
650g mixture of wild, field and chestnut mushrooms
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic
8 spring onions
70 g pitted dry black olives
10 g fresh dill
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200 ml crème fraiche or sour cream
good crusty bread (like the spelt recipe below.)
Wipe the mushrooms well, chop roughly, tip into the bowl of the food processor. (you may need to do this in batches) and chop finely. Peel and crush the garlic and finely chop the spring onions.
Heat oil in a large frying pan, add the spring onions and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes or until softened then add the chopped mushrooms and cook over a moderate heat. Water will start to come out of the mushrooms but carry on cooking until all the liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently for about 10-12 minutes or until the mushrooms are dark and rich in colour Set aside to cool.
Finely chop the olives, squeeze the juice from the lemon and chop the dill. Stir the olives and dill into the cooled mushroom mixture with the olives and season with lemon juice, paprika, nutmeg and salt and pepper. (be careful you may not need too much salt as the olives are quite salty.)
Huge pile of large cubes of bread for dipping, onto a large serving plate with a bowl of sour cream or crème fraiche and a bowl of the mushroom caviar for everyone to help themselves.
Spelt Soda Bread
Like I said I added a little treacle to the dough which gives it a rich nuttiness. This made two massive loaves, and took quite a long time to cook because of the size. But they looked amazing and I sliced some up and froze it. I’ve been having it toasted most days. This morning with soft scrambled eggs was dreamy. The easiest, tastiest bread I know. Must try it with all spelt flour.
690 g white flour
3 level teaspoons salt
4 level teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
4 level teaspoons cream of tartar
1 kg spelt flour – You’ll probably need a bit extra to dust your hands and the work surface.
4 tablespoons treacle
100 g unsalted butter, softened
5 x 284 ml containers of buttermilk (I say this because 284ml seems to be the standard size of buttermilk available in the U.K.)
Preheat oven 190-200 C
Mix the flour, salt and tartar in a very large bowl. Toss in the butter, cut into cubes and rub into the flour until the texture resembles fine breadcrumbs. (if your butter is too cold this will take you an age.) Gradually add the buttermilk or whatever you’re using, until a soft dough is formed. Cut in two, roll each into a ball and place one on each of two baking sheets.
With a knife cut a criss cross slash across the top and bake. These took about 1 -1/2 hours to cook and I rotated the trays of bread every so often, and covered the tops with foil about half way through cooking, because my oven is the cheapest of the cheap and tends to burn top and bottom.
You could of course cut the dough into four or roll out circles of the dough fairly thinly and then cut into triangles to make soda farls.
Bourbon and Coke Granita
La’s favourite tipple!
500 g brown sugar crystals, you know the sugar that look like amber gravel. This got me the right balance of sugar and caramel, but you could use, soft brown sugar. Light soft brown will be a light caramel flavour and dark brown, muscovado or molasses sugars will create a much stronger (with molasses being the strongest.) and intense sugaryness.
100 ml water
500 ml Bourbon – I used Jack Daniels
8-12 limes – Depends how juicy they are and you may like it more sour -Squeeze the juice from these
3 capfuls of vanilla extract – This vanilla really does add another level of flavour and elevates this from just being a frozen JD & Coke!
1.25 litres coke – Full fat coke only! (what’s the point if not.)
1 shallow bowl or tin – It needs to be freezer proof as you need to put this in freezer until ready. This will help speed up the freezing of the granita.
Tip the sugar into a pan and pour in the water. Heat until the sugar has melted, then remove from heat and pour in the bourbon and leave to cool, refrigerate.
Once chilled completely, stir in the lime juice, vanilla and coke. Taste and squeeze more lime, and add if you feel like it needs it. Pour into the frozen bowl or tin and leave for about 30 minutes, then using a fork scrape down any frozen ice crystals and mix in.
Return to freezer and repeat this process every 1/2 an hour, for 3-4 times, pressing all over the granita with the fork, and turning over, until you have even, fluffy ice crystals.
For a much smoother granita, (but I do love the fluffy crystals.) whizz up in a food processor instead of using the fork in the method, still repeating 3-4 times.
I didn’t do this, but I think a spoonful of single cream poured over it would be very nice I think….