I’ve set myself a challenge to host a supper club by the end of the Year. In true Bristol fashion, the preparation has been well underway with a soft launch supper club each month to friends and family.
On the menu for Supper Club #1 was;
It was quite a daunting task trying to work out what to cook that didn’t;
(a) leave me flapping in the kitchen for a full 24 hours before
(b) leave me flapping once everyone had arrived
(c) kill anyone
and more importantly, that everyone enjoyed the event!
It goes without saying that (a) went straight out of the window and may as well as slept in the kitchen – but most importantly, it was really great fun and (after a few hours kip), I would quite happily do it all again!
The prawns were a great choice to start as they were quick and easy to do meaning that I had time to focus on the main course. The olive tapenade bread rolls were, if I’m being completely honest, a little tough – but for a first attempt late the evening before, I think they more than passed the test.
For the main course I opted to slow cook a shoulder of lamb. The cooking of the lamb was fairly simple, save for having to make sure it was safely in the oven in time to cook for 3 hours before being allowed to rest. The lamb was served on a bed of smoked aubergine puree which was an interesting task! Similar to making baba ghanoush, I had to closely watching four aubergines burning over separate stoves – and try not to panic as the outer skin burned. Happily I opted to do this the night before so that if it did go wrong, there was time to quickly make another.
Cooking aubergine over a naked flame
Turns out, it’s nowhere near as scary or tricky as it seems! If you’re using a gas hob, make sure that you cover the area in foil leaving small holes for the actual burners to protrude to as this saves on the washing up! Simply lay the aubergines on top of the burners and make sure you turn every so often when they start to burn. If using a charcoal BBQ – once the BBQ is up to heat, nestle the aubergines in amongst the coals, again turning often. You want to make sure that they are really burnt before removing.
Once burnt all over, place in a bowl to cool. If you want to make sure they are extra smokey – cover the bowl in foil before setting aside. Then once cool, just peel away the skin to leave the mushy flesh.
Cut the flesh into pieces and pop into a sieve suspended over a bowl and cover. Leave for the night in the fridge and discard the excess fluid in the morning – simples.
If turning into puree – blend with a bit of fresh mint and majoram and season.
If making baba ghanoush – blend with some fresh garlic, tahini, olive oil and lemon – and maybe a little bit of cumin if you dare.
Once the lamb was cooked, I took it out to rest before pulling the meat off the bone and popping into a terrine mould. This was then weighed down and allowed to set. Once I was ready to serve, the lamb was cut into neat pieces before being reheated in a pan.
To serve the dish, I laid the lamb on top of the aubergine puree and topped with some grilled Swiss chard. The dish was drizzled with a lovely jus made from the stock and topped with an anchovy crumb.
I couldn’t resist rustling up a few fondant potatoes to accompany the dish too!
I was always quite nervous about cooking fondant potatoes for the first time – as they look and taste delicious, and so I assumed they would be very difficult to cook. But NO! They’re really simple to cook, just make sure that you keep your eye on them.
Top tip: add minced garlic and fresh thyme to take them to the next level!
To make, peel your potatoes and slice a little bit off the top and bottom so that they can stand up on the pan. Melt some butter in your pan and add the potatoes. Cook for about 6 minutes until the bottom is golden brown. Once brown, turn over and do the same on the other side. Next pour in chicken/veg stock and add minced garlic and fresh thyme. Cover and simmer gently until the potatoes are cooked.
I wasn’t sure what to choose for desert until a friend gave me some fresh rhubarb from their garden the day before my supper club (I know, I really had left it until the last minute!). Armed with my rhubarb, I set about thinking what I was going to make. Dismissing a classic rhubarb crumble in search of something lighter decided on a classic rhubarb fool with a ginger biscuit crumb. The fool was layered with a rhubarb syrup which made it look really appealing and made it easier to present.
ALL IN ALL: Supper Club #1 was a complete success – and I absolutely loved the challenge! I definitely learn’t a lot of skills and cannot wait to do the next one!